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

 

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“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

At First I Was Afraid, I Was Petrified…

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.

IMG_2362

Happy Angela

By Fay Russell-Clark

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

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