An Event and a Half!

Image

The Community Connections launch aimed to increase awareness of this innovative voluntary consortia led project which aims to support Lewisham residents to increase their health and well-being using community based solutions.

The project launch was an opportunity to highlight the successes achieved so far. For example, MT had was socially isolated due to health issues that forced her to leave her job. Our facilitators who work with clients supported MT to access activities and increase her social interaction with the community.

“Your professional support is so valuable, it is allowing me to be more confident and to look forward to doing activities.”
M T – Client

With feedback like this – we had to share!

Attendees came from all over Lewisham and the surrounding areas to find out more about the project, its clients and how Community Connections could support them.
Our keynote speaker, Professor Marjorie Mayo from Goldsmiths, University of London shared her experiences of “Integration and Citizenship” projects in Lewisham and how inspired she was by the potential of Community Connections to reduce unmet needs and increase individual participation.

Jacky Bourke-White, the CEO of Age UK Lewisham and Southwark and Tom Nixon, Project Worker from Voluntary Centre Lewisham were other important speakers. We also heard from one of the organisations that has benefited from working with one of our Community Development Workers (to read more about this piece of work click here)

Image

A special thank you goes to our client speakers; Glory and Chris. They shared with the audience how Community Connections has allowed them to meet new people, share their interests and skills and grow in confidence. Their input was one of the highlights of the day.

Image

 

Image

There were a number of organisations who ran stalls at the launch:
Communites that Care Lewisham which includes:
Access Lewisham
Heart n Soul
Meet me at the Albany
Rushey Green Time
Sydenham Garden
Their website is: http://lewishamctc.co.uk/index.php

There were also stalls from the Lewisham Direct Payment Team and Healthwatch Lewisham. Their website links are below:

Direct Payment Team:  http://www.lewishammylifemychoice.org.uk/
Healthwatch Lewisham:  www.healthwatchlewisham.co.uk

There were also workshops around key issues that affect the project and voluntary organisations in Lewisham. The areas covered were:

  •  How can we reach vulnerable adults in the community?
  •  How to increase volunteering and volunteering opportunities
  •  Developing sustainable community transport links for Lewisham

You can still join these discussions online by clicking here:

If you would like to find out how you or your organisation could get involved with Community Connections get in touch using the ‘Contact’ tab above.

Post by Noreen

Surviving, Striving, Thriving?

Two weeks ago I went to a conference hosted by the Centre for Community Engagement Research at Goldsmiths University. It was called “Communities surviving, striving, thriving? A day of dialogue and action.”
One of the most thought provoking moments of the day for me came right at the start when Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters offered up a thoughtful and engaging critique of multiculturalism and multifaithism. Her objections to these movements were centred on how they can have a homogenising effect on minority communities; allowing people to check the “we are being inclusive” box by referring to “the Muslim community” or “the Somali community”, for example. It is of course important to recognise the existence of these communities, to be able to work with them and include them in discussions and actions that will affect them just as they affect the wider population. But it is this repeated reference to “them” to which Pragna objects. As if “they” are a homogenous lot and “their” views can be represented by individual (usually religious) community leaders. It was, in a way, a plea for a wider recognition of intersectionality. The recognition that, in essence, people are not just members of the ethnic and religious communities they are (usually) born into, but that their identities are far more complex and they will themselves identify with several different communities at once and, most importantly, that this will have effects that cannot easily be broken down into their constituent parts.

We also heard from a number of other panelists including Mat Danaher from the Unison trade union whose impassioned call for people to restore faith and renew support for the trade union movement was warmly received and former young mayor of Lewisham Jacob Sakil in a day that managed to encompass a heated debate on food banks alongside workshops on the effective use of music as a means to engage with communities and on what the concept of democracy means to communities. There was even an agreement to take immediate action to address the problem of homelessness within the student population at Goldsmiths.

A running theme throughout the day and one that is most relevant to our work in Community Connections was the need to build more resilience and strengthen bonds in communities. It is a common reaction to the world we are presented with in 2014 which is characterised to a large extent by the disappearance of those links between people that once bred the kind of mutual support that we are struggling to provide to our ageing population. A world that Zygmunt Bauman calls “Liquid Modernity”. Crucially though, our attempts in the voluntary sector to reinvigorate communities are not (and should not be) just nostalgic calls for the solidarity of bygone eras, lest we reinforce the homogenising effects referred to above. Instead we must strive to celebrate the complexity that exists within us all, recognise each other as assets, and offer up support that blurs the lines drawn up by this well-intentioned drive to tolerance we call multiculturalism.

Post by Henry