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

Take Notice

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.

leaves
Did you notice the leaves turning this autumn?!

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!

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

Connect!

Have you heard about the 5 ways to wellbeing?  Here at community connections we think they give people a really simple and useful way of thinking about how they could make small changes in their lives to make themselves feel happier and improve their mental health.  Back in 2008 the New Economics Foundation (NEF) introduced the 5 ways to wellbeing and they have since been adopted by various organisations in the UK to inform their work and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes.

This is the first in a series of features we will be doing here on the Community Connections blog about the 5 ways to wellbeing, and when better to start than on World Mental Health Day!  In each post we will outline the point of discussion (one of the ways to wellbeing), spend a little time thinking about how it might have a positive impact on someone’s wellbeing and also give some indication about how our work in the Community Connections project connects with it.

So without further ado let’s get cracking! We are going to start with “Connect”.

five-ways-connect

This is basically about making the most of people around you, developing human relationships and ties to others.  Whether they are family, friends, people at work, or other people in your life, you will find that by investing time in your relationships with people you will feel enriched and better supported.

So why does connecting with people have such a positive impact on wellbeing?  There are several reasons for this but two of them really stand out.  The first is the fact that human beings are social creatures.  We are just made to be with other people, and our minds crave the company of others.  Have a think about the happiest moments of your life and ask yourself how many of those moments were dependent on other people or their actions.  It is quite a lot, isn’t it?  The majority probably!

The second reason that connecting with people has a positive effect on wellbeing is that people are our support networks.  If we start to have a wobble mentally or if we have a bad day, what can pick us up more quickly and effectively than the company of others?  Ever felt better after moaning about a bad day on the phone with a friend?  Ever noticed how getting something off your chest can make the world of difference?  This is why staying connected to the people around you is so important.

Here at Community Connections we take staying connected very seriously.  Earlier in the year I wrote about the need for befrienders in the borough, and befrienders continue to make incredibly valuable contributions to helping isolated people feel more connected.  In nearly everything we do we are helping people stay connected and make new connections with others.  Our development work with voluntary groups is all about building capacity within communities to enable people to support each other more, and every time someone goes with one of our facilitators to a new lunch club or exercise class they are expanding their own support network.

So have a think about your own networks and how you could expand them.  Make a point of ringing an old friend once a week, or connect with someone online.  You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel!

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

 

 

Community Connections at South Lewisham Group Practice

Thanks to the Patients in Participation Group and as part of a very successful Community Connections outreach programme, Trevor Pybus and Elaine Egan attended the South Lewisham Health Center in 50 Conisborough Crescent, Catford SE6 2SP on the morning of Friday 16 May.

The South Lewisham Group Practice provides primary care services for over 14,300 patients across Catford, Bellingham and Downham and the Practice’s Patients in Participation Group actively helps to promote quality services to be proud of.

Using the Health centre space allowed the team a unique opportunity to engage directly with the practice patients in the South Eastern Cluster. The morning quickly passed and we were able to get some direct referrals and one patient took three Community Connections information leaflets from us to pass onto her neighbours!

EE

For the next few months the Community Connections team will be at the South Lewisham Health Centre on the second Friday of the month, next visit 13 June. If you are in the area please come along and say hello.

 

For more information on the South Lewisham Health Centre Patients in Participation Group please go to www.southlewishamgrouppractice.co.uk. To attend the Friday morning information sessions please contact Alexandra Camies PPG Chair, on 07885 459175 email: ppgchair@btinternet.com or Dawn Lait, Practice Manager on 020 3049 2580, email: dawnlait@nhs.net.

Trevor Pybus

Community Connections CD worker for the South Eastern cluster

Email: Trevor.pybus@lewisham.gov.uk or downhamcommunityproject@hotmail.co.uk

07821 292317

This Thursday @ Honor Oak Community Centre: Inclusive Cycling

inccyc

Come along to Honor Oak Community Centre, This Thursday from 2 – 4 pm to try out some inclusive cycling. There will be a range of bikes for all different abilities including two-seater side-by-side and handcycles. The event is free to attend and there will be information on hand about other similar sessions that take place in Lewisham. So why not come and have a go?

Post by Henry

 

 

Caught on Camera

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

5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

This is just a quick post to let you know about the Community Connections Launch Event on Thursday the 27th March 2014 from 12:00 to 15:00 in the Civic Suite in Catford, SE6 4RU.  There will be a good mix of speakers including Marjorie Mayo, Emeritus Professor of Community Development at Goldsmiths and Jacky Bourke-White, CEO of Age UK Lewisham and Southwark.  There will also be some workshops on reaching out to vulnerable people, volunteering and sustainable transport solutions, and a chance to meet some people we’ve been working with and supporting in the Borough.

A light lunch will be provided and there will be opportunity to network with other providers. Check out the flyer for the event for more info:

Community_Connections_Launch Flyer

Please come along if you can make it and would like to know more about the project and the people involved.  You can sign up via Eventbrite here.  We hope to see lots of you there!

Post by Henry