Here is a video of Henry and I visiting the Lewisham Speaking Up ‘Big Parliament’ a few weeks ago at The Albany. We were asked to come and talk to the members about what the Community Connections Project is about and ask people to spread the word. We prepared a presentation in which we sought to give an overview of all the many activities that community groups and organisations offer in Lewisham, but the list was so big that we only had time to mention a few.
During the presentation we talked about groups that we have got to know and all the great work they do, as well as being able to talk about clients that we have already worked with that are now able to access activities and hobbies that they enjoy. We also asked people to challenge us to find new skills or activities that they would like to learn, so that we can continue to make new links in the Lewisham community.
I was very nervous but luckily everyone was friendly and welcoming and we were able to really enjoy talking about what Community Connections does and what we hope it can do for people in Lewisham in the future. Working on the presentation even gave me a chance to realise just how much I have learnt in the short time I have been working in the team.
We hoped that we would be able to get people interested in finding out what’s going on locally to them and we were very pleased when we received referrals after the presentation. We are hoping to get the opportunity to present to as many groups and clubs as possible so we can tell everyone about the good work that’s going on in Lewisham for people to get active, socialise, volunteer, maybe even access employment or simply learn new skills.
Post by Sam Farinha
Mr. W, a gentleman of 74, was referred to Community Connections in December 2013 by Lewisham Council. I was assigned as his Community Support Facilitator. Around the same time Lewisham Council’s social services were working very hard to support Mr. W after some time spent in hospital. The Holy Cross church in Catford has also been wonderful in the support they have offered him. Holy Cross bring communion to Mr. W.’s home, they also brought him hot meals throughout the winter and are encouraging him to attend social events at their church.
I worked with Mr. W between December 2013 and February 2014. In this time Mr W. and I explored what kinds of activities would improve his life. I also spent time encouraging Mr. W. to take care of himself and his home.
Mr W. loves football and socialising, he also likes to go to the local cafe for breakfast. I linked him up with Age UK Lewisham and Southwark End Loneliness Project. This project provides befrienders to visit people who are feeling isolated. A befriender was provided for Mr. W., who likes football and also loves to socialise, so that have plenty of common interests! This befriender is hoping to arrange a Men’s social group in the future. Mr. W. expressed that he was very enthusiastic about this prospect. He also told me that he’ll soon be introducing his befriender to his favourite café!
During the follow up visit Mr. W stated that he felt a lot better and also felt that he was more active and had met more people. Mr. W. looked in really good health and he said that he was feeling well. He had improved drastically since December. When asked about his befriender Mr. W, said that he was “a smashing bloke.” He felt that the input from Community Connections, Holy Cross Church and Lewisham council had improved his life. I asked Mr. W. if there was anything else he would like to add about the Community Connections project, he replied “you’re just 100% great.” This case is a really positive example of how Community Connections can work in partnership with other agencies to enhance the wellbeing of an individual. This is also an excellent case of organisations working in an integrated manner. I look forward to reporting upon many more cases like this!
Post by Rosa Parker, Community Support Facilitator
I’ve been thinking a lot about timebanking recently and the impact it can have on the lives of people and on communities. I think three things that really stand out about the timebanking model that set it apart from other models of volunteering and service delivery are that it is egalitarian, hyper-local, and bottom-up. Egalitarian in the sense that everyone’s time is worth the same amount; usually one hour of anyone’s time is equal to one “Time Credit”. Hyper local in the sense that it operates at the level of very local communities – people volunteering their time to support their neighbours – which is something most traditional organisations and agencies struggle to develop. And bottom-up in the sense that it is driven by the members themselves; they understand the assets in their own communities and how they can be best put to use in order to address local need.
Here in Lewisham we are lucky to have a dedicated team working at Rushey Green Time Bank (RGTB) who have also set up a number of local hubs in the borough. We have already been working closely with RGTB to facilitate some person-to-person time exchanges which have benefited some of our service users and we anticipate this model of volunteering being an effective mode of support for people across the borough for a long time to come.
Of course, every timebank grows to be more effective and useful as more people get involved, and there is always room for more members, so maybe you could join in? Remember, for every hour you volunteer, you can get an hour back from another time bank member. Maybe you need some help in the garden? Or someone to show you how to use your new computer? The timebank could be just what you need…
You can contact Rushey Green Time Bank on 020 7138 1772 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post by Henry
I went to visit a local voluntary group called Just Older Youth (JOY) this morning and I have to say I was blown away by their energy and enthusiasm! On Mondays they run three separate events in three separate venues; Tai-Chi (£2.00), Seated Exercise (£1.50) and a “Chop and Chat” group. There was a fantastic community spirit underpinning all of these events and everyone was having such a good time. JOY is operated entirely by volunteers and I think they are a shining example of how the voluntary sector works at its best to produce cost-effective solutions in response to localised concerns.
The approach of JOY is really neatly summed up by their name; they want to consider older people who live locally as people, just young people, who happen to be a bit older. They still crave social interaction, and get a buzz from physical activity, and want to be able to contribute to their community.
JOY are always looking for new people to attend their groups and classes, so if you fancy taking part or know someone who does, check out their list of activities.
I also wonder if there are other groups or organisations in the Borough that are similar to JOY and operate in other areas. Do you work for one? Do you know of one? If so, we’d love to hear about them, so please get in touch!
Post by Henry