Helping isolated people rediscover their interests and gain confidence. Are you looking for a rewarding voluntary role in your community?
The Community Connections project supports adults in Lewisham who are isolated or lonely. We do this by connecting them to community groups and activities. We are looking for volunteers who can help us in our mission to reduce isolation.
WHAT WOULD THIS INVOLVE?
Each client will receive your support for a limited period of time. Types of support that you can offer include:
Escorting to social groups
Help with building skills such as IT / use of gadgets
Assisting with new transport services
Help with form filling
Community Connectors are not long term befrienders. The goal is to support the client in practical ways so as to empower them and enable them to continue doing these things independently in the future. We take a keen interest in enabling our volunteers to fulfil their potential and offer opportununities for personal development. You will receive regular supervision and training.
As Community Connections has developed over the past five years, we’ve realised addressing social isolation can look very different for different people’s needs. When we describe ourselves as a project addressing social isolation, people may imagine a more limited project, say a service that only connects to befrienders. In reality, Community Facilitators and Community Development Workers do so much more to build a stronger community support for vulnerable or isolated adults.
Community Facilitators work one-to-one with vulnerable adults in Lewisham to access community groups and services. Clients are referred to Community Connections in a number of ways, including GPs, social care services, community groups and self-referrals.
We surveyed 421 clients from April to September 2017, and found the following:
61% of clients had multiple health issues
36% of clients were experiencing mental health difficulties
29% of clients had a long-term health condition
58% of clients had mobility impairments or limitations
In terms of the work Community Facilitators did with clients, 94% requested support accessing social groups, which covers a broad array of activities and supports for the general population as well as specific groups (eg LGBT, older people). This was the most common way Facilitators addressed social isolation.
18% of clients requested befriending and 24% needed accessible transportation to access the community. These are two of the most over-subscribed services across the borough. 16% wanted help in their home, such as domestic help or a Social Care assessment of their house, and 27% needed further practical support in their daily lives. 22% of clients were linked to health services such as drug/ alcohol support, counselling or hand/ foot care. 21% of clients were in need of economic support services, such as food banks or debt advice.
World Mental Health Day is an annual day of recognition for mental health issues and the people whose lives are impacted by them. This year Trevor, a Community Development Worker, set about arranging a conference bringing together statutory mental health services, community sector support, and local residents to celebrate mental health services around the borough and to recognise the work done by people with mental health issues to manage their health.
The event was supported by Cllr Jonathan Slater and organised by partners of Lewisham Mental Health Connection including: Community Connections, Hexagon, Apax, QVT, Metropolitan Police, Bromley and Lewisham Mind, Lewisham Council, Certitude and the Lewisham Pensioners Forum.
Trevor brought together information stalls and workshops on topics ranging from Employment, Laughter Yoga, Mindfulness, Art Therapy and Self-Management. There were over 100 people in attendance, and the day was a great success for all!
Our Connectors provide vital support to vulnerable people by link them to local social activities and support services. We match you based on your availability and location and provide you with an appointment time. Your role will be to:
Support the person to achieve their goals which might mean attending a new club with them for the first time to build confidence
Provide client updates to Community Facilitators regularly
Work with the support of the office team to identify suitable services and spend time talking through these with the client
Complete basic templates and paperwork to record the work you have carried out
Attending community events to raise the profile of Community Connections (optional)
Skills and Qualifications needed
Enthusiasm and a commitment to supporting vulnerable adults are essential. We will provide you with the training that you need though knowledge of the borough of Lewisham would be a bonus. You will need to have excellent English language skills and listening skills, additional language skills will be most welcome.
We will provide you with person centred planning training in addition to our volunteer induction and provide a forum events to meet with other volunteers and the Volunteer Coordinator to share learning.
If you would like to volunteer with us then contact us on: 0208 314 3244
When was the last time you learned something new? Today we are going to have a quick look about what it means to learn, how it can contribute to wellbeing, and how you might be able to learn something new in Lewisham.
In some ways we are constantly learning. What happens when you watch or listen to a news programme, for example, usually involves a degree of learning as you take in new information relating to the world and current events. But when we talk about learning as a way to wellbeing, we are talking about something a bit more than that. Learning can impact upon wellbeing when it really changes us, how we think of ourselves or lifts our confidence. It might be learning a new skill like how to knit or how to play a new musical instrument or it might be a language.
Most importantly, learning doesn’t have to take place in a traditional learning environment like a school or college. In Lewisham there are a number of voluntary groups and clubs where you can go to learn new skills. Never ridden a bike before? Wheels for Wellbeing still run their sessions on a Tuesday from 12 until 1pm! Want to learn to sew? Why not try ‘Sew You Need to Need to Get Out More’ at Besson Street Community Garden on Wednesday afternoons. The University if the Third Age offers a really broad variety of learning opportunities in the borough; just take a look at their timetable!
So maybe 2015 is the year you finally start having those French lessons, or fix up that rusty old bike that is sitting in your garage! Whatever it is you want to do, learning is sure to make you feel good!
This is the third in our seRies of posts about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Did you notice the deliberate mistake in the first sentence? If you did then well done! If not, go back and have another look and this time be extra careful to Take notice. OK, this is a silly example, and spotting a capital R in the wrong place is not likely to improve your wellbeing significantly. But taking notice is really all about being present in the moment and not worrying too much about what else is going on that day or that week. It is about freeing yourself, even if just momentarily, from the multiple distractions that seem to be everywhere now days. From the phone buzzing in your pocket to adverts that scream out from TV sets sometimes it feels like we are being permanently bombarded with so much information that it might be easy to forget the simple pleasures that life brings.
Take a moment to look around you and really take in your environment, try to pick out something you’ve not noticed before and think about it for a few seconds. Take some deep breaths, feel yourself grounded in your surroundings. Feels good doesn’t it?
It is important to take notice, to be mindful, in the moment and meditate occasionally. Taking time like this will help to put things in perspective, come up with new solutions to the tasks that life throws at us, and to de-stress. Why not take an hour or two to go on a healthy walk? or take in some culture at the Horniman Museum? I’ll bet you will feel better for it! If you’d like some more ideas, get in touch!
Mental ill health costs UK employers an estimated £26 billion, which equates to an average of over £1,000 per employee.
Attending MHFA – Mental Health First Aid 2 days course has really helped me to to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health problem. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, mental health first aid taught me how to recognise symptoms that are crucial warning signs of mental ill health.
Mental ill health can affect every single one of us at any time of our lives. There is widespread ignorance of mental ill health in the general population and there is the associated stigma too. For some the stigma can lead to delays in people seeking help and support. There is also a lack of confidence in what to do if someone is distressed or in a crisis situation. Being able to recognise signs and symptoms more readily can save someone’s life and equipped with this training I am more aware of the services available to those who are suffering and I can signpost them to get support rather than just assuming that there is how the person is.
Poor mental health does not only affect you when you are old,family relationships, social pressures from peers and media as well as fears over the future – all these combine to make the world in which our young are growing up a confusing and, at times, an alienating place and we should not underestimate how it can affect them as much or worse than when you are older.
A staggering three quarters of all adult mental health problems start before the age of 18 and practitioners are putting pressure on the Government to get teachers to be trained to spot the early signs and symptoms in children in order to get an early diagnosis and allow these children to learn what is wrong with them and how to manage it throughout their lives.
How happy are YOU?
Please follow the link below for a quick mental health well being check on the NHS website:
If you’ve been following our posts about Ways to Wellbeing, you might be interested in this introductory session run by Voluntary Action Lewisham all about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing!
Five Ways to Wellbeing – free introductory session
Voluntary Action Lewisham has engaged with over 100 individuals in Lewisham, representing over 60 charities, in the Five Ways to Wellbeing. VAL is running an introductory session on Thursday 11 December.
This event is for staff and volunteers from Lewisham organisations and is aimed at those who have not attended a session previously.
Book now! This event is free – but booking online is essential.