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

Ways to Wellbeing – Introductory Session

If you’ve been following our posts about Ways to Wellbeing, you might be interested in this introductory session run by Voluntary Action Lewisham all about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing!

Five Ways to Wellbeing – free introductory session 

Voluntary Action Lewisham has engaged with over 100 individuals in Lewisham, representing over 60 charities, in the Five Ways to Wellbeing. VAL is running an introductory session on Thursday 11 December.
This event is for staff and volunteers from Lewisham organisations and is aimed at those who have not attended a session previously.
Book now! This event is free – but booking online is essential.

Stay Active

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.

This is why in our work in Lewisham we are always trying to help people to stay active.  There are so many things to do in your local area!  Some people like to go on healthy walks, others choose to do a bit of chair-based exercise every week, there is walking football, inclusive cycling, and now there are gym instructors who are specially trained to work with people with a range of disabilities!

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 communityconnections@ageuklands.org.uk.

Post by Henry

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

Wheels for Wellbeing

 

I heard about ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ from my colleague Henry, he was really enthusiastic about this project so I thought I’d give it shot. ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ aim to make cycling accessible for everyone; they do this by providing an array of adapted cycles and intriguing contraptions! I asked a client of mine, James, whether he’d like to try it out. We were both a little unsure of what this activity would be like as James uses an electric wheelchair most of the time. When we arrived we saw that there was a wide choice of bicycles. We used a ‘Velo Plus Wheelchair bike’ the cyclist sits behind the wheelchair user, who sits securely in the front.

Click here to see a video!

This was an interesting experience for both of us and it was surprisingly easy to ride. We saw that there were people of various abilities using the bikes. One of the most interesting bikes was the ‘Handcycle’. This bike can be utilised by those who cannot use their legs. I tried it out, it’s good fun and is definitely a great arm workout! James was interested in trying out the ‘Handcycle’ in the future to build up his strength. James felt that he’d prefer to do this activity outdoors, ‘Wheels for Wellbeing’ have told us that they plan to do just that in Ladywell, Lewisham, once the weather picks up. I would strongly recommend this activity for anyone who’d like to get back into cycling or just try something a little different. It’s also a good chance to socialise and meet new people in your local area. This activity takes place each Tuesdays 12-1pm at Ladywell Day Centre.

Post by Rosa Parker

photo (19)