Neighbourhood Community Development Partnerships

Community Connections community development workers coordinate Neighbourhood Development Community Partnerships (NCDPs) in each quadrant of Lewisham. The NCDPs all meet the same structural aims: bringing community and statutory resources together, sharing views on areas of need and collaboratively using the NCDP forums to address them

In 2017-2018, the NCDPs brought together 170 community groups, with 296 different individuals participating in meetings.

2017.05.16 attendance view cropped

Each neighbourhood developed its own plan through identifying local priorities and mapping community assets. Local voluntary-sector groups bid for LBL Public Health funding, and NCDPs used a participatory budgeting approach to communally allocate the funds, strengthening local assets to better address local priorities. Because the neighbourhoods are unique each NCDP grew in very different ways.

In the north of the borough, previous council-led programmes had already built a strong community sector in two of the wards. Community groups used the NCDP as a platform to share this knowledge and skill set with groups in the two wards who had not previously benefited from these initiatives. Community groups in all four wards came together to create a partnership of seven projects built on individual expertise of each group.

In the central area, the NCDP was used to bring in small voluntary-sector groups who have not been reached by the council’s traditional methods of outreach. Membership in the NCDP grew largely by word of mouth to include 47 new community groups over the course of the year, primarily those focused on supporting BME and other minority communities.

The southwest of the borough historically has fewer community sector organisations, which find themselves stretched and unable to invest time or resources into growing to support the increasing need of the area. The NCDP members used the LBL Public Health funding as an opportunity to create a volunteer coordinator post, shared across the neighbourhood’s voluntary sector, to increase capacity in the community sector.

The southeast of the borough had a similarly collaborative approach, in which a local leisure centre used its transportation resources to increase access to six locally-based exercise groups. These groups had not previously worked together, and the joined-up approach increased membership and accessibility to all six groups. The NCDP members allocated LBL Public Health funding to the leisure centre to increase staff hours and minibus use, enabling this growth.

workshopping 2018.05.08 cropped.jpg

New Community Connections leaflets

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.

This leaflet shows how Community Facilitators support clients socially and practically

This leaflet describes Community Development Workers’ impact on building stronger communities

 

One client’s experience: practical support

Jay is a 38 year-old man who developed epilepsy as an adult. He has a hard time controlling his seizures, and as a result he was afraid to leave his house for fear of having a seizure and not having help available.

A Community Facilitator (CF) met with Jay in his home to talk about his situation – his likes and dislikes, his interests and what holds him back from engaging in community life.

Jay said that he would like to get back into work again, but the first step for him would be to build confidence in leaving the house. The CF helped Jay to get an epilepsy card through Epilepsy Action, which Jay can carry in case someone finds him having a seizure.

epilepsy action

The CF also suggested a nearby befriending group and helped Jay work out a safety plan with them: he will call the group to let them know he is coming, and if he does not arrive within an hour they group knows to notify the authorities that he has had difficulty along the way.

Having a safety plan helped Jay feel more confident in leaving the house. He asked about community gardening groups, and is now talking to Voluntary Services Lewisham about volunteering with them as well. Often the first step is the hardest, as Jay found.

Be a Community Connector!

Community Connectors

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.

Training

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

communityconnections@ageuklands.org.uk

Keep Learning!

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!

Post by Henry

Our NEW befriending and mentoring scheme!

norma with driverA few months ago I wrote a blog post about befriending, what people get out of it and why it is a service that is so badly needed in the borough.  Several months on there is still a pressing need for more befrienders, and the links that form between volunteers and people who were previously very isolated are the building blocks of the all-important community ties that in our experience really must continue to be emphasised in care strategies at both local and national levels in the future.

With all of this in mind I am pleased to be able to tell you all today about our own brand new befriending scheme that is being run by our colleagues over at Volunteer Centre Lewisham (VCL).  Before I launch into the detail, I think it is important to acknowledge that it is really a reflection of the dynamic and responsive voluntary sector in Lewisham that the project has been started up.  This is something that all involved should be proud of, from the commissioners at Lewisham Council who had the foresight to fund the work that we have done to the development workers and facilitators within Community Connections that have uncovered this need and worked so hard to address it, to the wonderful staff at VCL who are in charge of the befriending project to the new volunteers who have already signed up to be befrienders.  I think this project is not only an important practical step on the road to making Lewisham a better place to grow old, it also sends a strong message to everyone that the voluntary sector in Lewisham listens to service users and responds effectively. Without further ado then, here is the key information about the project:

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS BEFRIENDING AND MENTORING SCHEME

Volunteer Centre Lewisham’s Community Connections Befriending Scheme is aimed at providing 1-2-1 as well as group support to older and vulnerable adults in the Borough of Lewisham.

How we work

We recruit, train and supervise people interested in becoming volunteer befrienders and introduce befrienders and service users to each other in a friendly, informal and supportive process. The main aim of this befriending scheme is to actively promote independence and recovery.  The Befriending Co-ordinator & volunteer befrienders will work with rather than for the service user.

Who do we work with?

Anyone who is over the age of 18 and belongs to the following groups may be able to use our service:

  • Carers
  • Older people
  • Disabled people
  • Substance abusers
  • People at risk of exclusion
  • Vulnerable adults

The Befriending Co-ordinator will meet with you to do an initial assessment and will discuss what you need from us and how we can support you. This might include help to access an activity, learning a new skill, accompanying you for appointments or simply having someone to talk to.

Once we know what you need the Befriending Co-ordinator will find you a suitable volunteer and introduce you as soon as possible.

How to access the service

You can self-refer or you can be referred by your Doctor, by social services or through other agencies. Befriending Scheme Referral Form

We are recruiting

The Befriending scheme depends on volunteers and we are always looking for reliable and committed people interested in becoming volunteer befrienders to support vulnerable and older adults in the local community.  Click this link to see the volunteer role description:  Volunteer Befriender

We offer full training and support to all our volunteers and we provide out of pocket expenses as well. 

For more information please call Aparna Sapre, Community Connections Befriending Co-ordinator on 020 8613 7113 or E-mail: community1@volunteercentrelewishamorg.uk

So if you have a few hours to spare and would like to be more involved in your community, please come and join us!

Post by Henry

Mental Health First Aid

1 in 4 logo news

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, socialbrain health 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.

keeping-mentally-fitHow happy are YOU?

Please follow the link below for a quick  mental health well being check on the NHS website:

Click HERE

Post by Danielle Heath

Community Support Facilitator

Stay Active

So here we are with our second blog post on the five ways to wellbeing.  This time we’re looking at staying active as a way to maintain or even improve your mental and physical wellbeing.  Staying active is really about exercising your body’s muscles.  And this doesn’t mean you have to be going to the gym and lifting weights everyday.  It’s about doing what you can, what’s right for you, and what makes you feel good (for me it is cycling!).

Getting exercise is well known to be associated with levels of endorphins which are natural chemicals made in your body which make you feel good.  Most people will know from their own experience that being active does really have a positive effect on how well they feel.  And keeping muscles that little bit stronger can make all the difference as we become older and more frail.

This is why in our work in Lewisham we are always trying to help people to stay active.  There are so many things to do in your local area!  Some people like to go on healthy walks, others choose to do a bit of chair-based exercise every week, there is walking football, inclusive cycling, and now there are gym instructors who are specially trained to work with people with a range of disabilities!

There are so many more things to do as well, this is really just a small snapshot.  So if you’d like a bit of support in staying active, in keeping your muscles working and the endorphins flowing, you can always get in touch on 0208 314 3244 or communityconnections@ageuklands.org.uk.

Post by Henry

Can we make Lewisham a better place to grow old?

I happened across this video by the Local Government Association’s Ageing Well campaign today, and thought it was worth sharing.  Through three case studies it brings out some of the most important principles for a forward-looking and supportive care service confronted with an ageing population.  These principles include valuing people and their contributions, allowing work and workers to be person-centred, and the recognition of the problem of loneliness among older people. A general awareness of dementia and available services among professionals who work in the community is also highlighted as being an important element in the mix.  

Here at Community Connections these principles are fundamental aspects of the kind of service we are striving to provide for people.  We would like Lewisham to be a better place for people to grow old.  If you think you can help or if you’d like to know more we are only a phone call away: 020 8314 3244.  

Finally, some of the team are going on training to become Dementia Friends Champions in September, maybe you’d like to join us?

http://alzheimers.dementiafriends.org.uk/WEBArticle?page=what-should-i-consider#.U85-yeNdV2B

Post by Henry