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.
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!
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, social 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.
How happy are YOU?
Please follow the link below for a quick mental health well being check on the NHS website:
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.
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 email@example.com.
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!
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.
Those two lines from the famous song certainly summed up how Angela felt when she first met me and I’m not that scary I promise…..
Y’see Angela moved to London last year from her native Devon and aside from her sister who lives on the other side of Lewisham, did not know a soul. She practically never left her flat, certainly not alone.
When I first met Angela, in the company of her sister, she barely spoke two words to me. I persevered and after my next visit, Angela seemed more comfortable with me. What I discovered was that Angela was incredibly lonely. She later told me that back then she had felt “lost, unhappy and very depressed”
I suggested that Angela may like to attend a local lunch group that meet every Friday called “Friendship Fridays”. I had been to the club previously and the lady that runs it (Jackie) is extremely friendly and makes everyone feel welcome. Angela agreed to give it a try and so I agreed to escort her there on the bus the following week.
Angela was extremely “scared and nervous” on her first visit to Friendship Fridays. She wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t expect anybody to talk to her let alone make new friends. However, she couldn’t have got a warmer welcome from Jackie and the team. I stayed with Angela throughout the stay and by the end she was laughing and joking. I asked her if she’d like to return the following week. Her reply was:
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world”
Since then, there has been no stopping Angela. Not only does she attend the club every Friday – by taking the bus alone (something she had never done previously) she now goes shopping alone and even visited her sister on the train. Her sister is delighted in the change in Angela and they have both thanked Community Connections for all their help and support.
And that’s not all. Angela has asked me to pass on her details to the Volunteer Centre Lewisham as she would now like to help other people out, after all… What goes around, comes around.
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
Call me an old romantic if you will, but I like nothing more than trawling through a good old data set on Valentine’s day. There’s a simple reason for this and that is that good service delivery needs to be evidence based; nothing says “I love you” quite like developing services that actually address the well evidenced needs and desires of local people and capitalise fully on local resources. Evidence and data in this sense are interchangeable. A record of the fact that we have an empty community hall on Friday mornings is data, as is knowledge of a nascent voluntary group looking for a venue (hopefully you can see where this is going). A more traditional conception of data is perhaps represented in this table derived from the 2011 census data which gives reported general health by ethnic group in Lewisham. All three could be put to good use in developing a new service with a health-focus for the local community.
As a Community Development Worker, access to data and its effective interpretation and implementation are of paramount importance to me as a I go about my work. But I want to stress that this doesn’t mean sitting down in front of spreadsheets all day long – it also means going out and visiting groups and venues, putting faces to email addresses and gaining a thorough and human understanding of who is working to deliver services, what their motivations and visions are, and how they go about it.
Between these two extremes there is a wealth of information available for free and presented in intuitive and accessible formats that can help people who are thinking about services and service delivery to work effectively. This ward atlas by http://data.london.gov.uk/ is a great example. A few clicks and you can generate a map of Lewisham indicating the population density of the over-65 age group:
(Note how the density increases gradually from the north to the south of the borough).
You can imagine for yourself how this kind of information could be put to use by a local authority or by local people working to support each other. Powerful, wouldn’t you say?
We also live in the era of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) produced by Local Authorities in conjunction with local NHS bodies and by which many priorities in terms of funding and commissioning of services are set. Anyone thinking about a new service or developing an existing one would be foolish to ignore their local JSNA and the local priorities identified therein. Having said that the priorities identified in the JSNA in Lewisham are wide ranging and could be interpreted to include almost any illnesses (“reduce the number of emergency admissions for people with chronic long term conditions” and “improve mental health and wellbeing” are just 2 of the 9 priorities in Lewisham) – so organisations looking for funding can and should be considering how their projected outcomes fit in with these priorities.
And yes, here at Community Connections we are generating our own data sets. Most interesting will be the work our facilitators have been doing to uncover the most significant unmet needs in the borough (see my previous post: Could you be a befriender? – and there will be more to come) but also on the development side of the project we are working towards developing maps like this that give a broad overview of services in one corner of the borough.
So what sources of data do you use that I could access? Is there anything else available in Lewisham? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
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!
In fact there are so many excellent organisations – statutory and non-statutory – working with adults in the Borough that it prompted one GP to complain to us recently that there are “So many organisations offering services now that it gets quite confusing”. And there is some truth in this. There are all kinds of projects, groups and forums that people can get involved in in the borough and whilst this is certainly a thing to be celebrated, it can also be bewildering for everyone involved.
The task of the Community Development Workers here at Community Connections is to try to make sense of all of this and to get a real understanding of what services are available, who they are appropriate for, and how, with the input of service-users, they might be improved. We are not just producing another directory of services; this is not simply a process of putting together a new list for a council leaflet. Rather we are looking at the rich variety of opportunity in the borough, trying to get first-hand experience of as much of it as possible, and supporting everyone to develop services for the better.
So, if you’re an organisation operating in the borough and you’d like more involvement from service users in planning and delivery but are not sure how to go about this, then get in touch. Likewise if you are someone who regularly accesses services in the borough and would like to have more of a say in the kinds of opportunities you are offered.
We can be contacted at:
You can call us on: 07704 235535
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @cc_lewisham
Finally, Merry Christmas to one and all, and we’ll be back in the new year.