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

Then What? Healthwatch Lewisham launches local inquiry into discharge processes

At Healthwatch Lewisham we ask people to share their experiences about health and social care services. Currently we are focusing on people’s experiences of leaving hospital or a community care service; we call this the discharge process. We would like to gather feedback from as many people as possible to understand what works and what doesn’t in the discharge process.
 
If you have an experience that you could tell us about or know or work with someone who does please take a few minutes to complete this important online survey. We can provide paper copies wherever needed.
The survey is anonymous and we will not publish any information to identify you. The combined findings will be shared with managers and commissioners of health and care services in order to improve services in Lewisham. Our findings will contribute towards a national inquiry being run by Healthwatch England who are carrying out a national inquiry into unsafe discharge processes.
 
If you would prefer to write to us, would like to request a paper copy or prefer to tell your experience over the phone or face-to-face please email info@healthwatchlewisham.co.uk or call our office on 0207 998 7796.

The Deadline for completing the survey is Wednesday the 9th of July. 
Click here to go to the Survey
 

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!

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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

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

An Event and a Half!

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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)

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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.

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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

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ― Helen Keller

On the morning of Saturday 8 March 2014 the Practice Patient Group (PPG) held the inaugural South Lewisham Health Centre Health and Well Being community event. This was held at the South Lewisham Health Centre.

At a very early stage in the planning process the PPG decided that ‘collaboration’ would be the key theme of the event. And in a spirit of collaboration the Community Connections Community Development worker for the South Eastern cluster (Trevor Pybus) had the opportunity to work closely with the South Lewisham Health Centre Patient group to help deliver the event. 

A series of outcomes for the event were developed; these included increasing the current health information held at the South Lewisham Health Centre for patients and the wider community and, importantly, to share the learning from the event.

A draft plan setting out the potential best use of the waiting room space was drawn up. Over twenty different community services applied to have information stalls at the Health and Well being event. The variety and breadth of organisations that were willing to participate was outstanding; new and old, small and large; all applied and were welcomed.  The PPG supplied a unique opportunity for these very different organisations to network with staff from the Health centre. Local people along with the South Lewisham team of Doctors engaged in a very informal dialog. People quickly found out more about the very different community based services.  

An unplanned outcome of the day was the potential for community partners to have information stalls available during the centres opening hours.  

The day was an excellent example of how the Community Connections project is trying to embed the key concept of co-production in the development of public services. The day helped especially toward increasing community capacity. The informal approach untaken will hopefully lead into improved user and carer experience of services. And the use of PPG will help toward the acknowledgement that the citizen has a vital role in achieving positive outcomes from public services.

I look forward to letting you have a copy of the final report!

Trevor Pybus

Community Development Worker

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

100% Great!

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