Category Archives: Friendship

Free LGBT Film Night – 30th July 2017

 “David is Homosexual” is a film shot in Lewisham and Greenwich over 40 years ago by the local branch of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). It will be shown at the Lewisham ArtsCafé in Manor Park at 6.00pm on Sunday 30 July.

“David Is Homosexual” tells the story of one young man’s coming out to his family, friends and workmates at a time when homophobia was still rife. All those involved in making the film were members of the Lewisham Branch of CHE. The aim was to encourage local lesbian and gay people of all ages to join the group and to lose the sense of isolation and fear which so many felt at that time.

David is Homosexual
For over 30 years the film was preserved by its cameraman, David Belton, and following a revival of interest it is now in the British Film Institute archive. The film includes footage of the 1976 London Gay Pride March and might be a unique record of that event.

The film was directed by Wilfred Avery, an artist who had a retrospective exhibition at the Woodlands Gallery Greenwich the year after the film was made and died in 2016 aged 90. His partner of 50 years, Ray Crossley, who survives him, was one of the group members appearing in the film. Peter Scott-Presland, the author of “Amiable Warriors”, the official history of CHE, has described the film as ‘brave  and touching’ and its return to Lewisham after so many years and in the different social attitudes it helped to achieve
will be an historic event.

Anyone involved in making the film is asked to contact David.is.homosexual@outlook.com

Community Connections video

Check out our Community Connections video to get a better understanding of the work we do.

Thanks to everyone who helped us create this video, with their photos, information and time, and thanks to all those who bravely agreed to star in thlogo square v4e film!

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

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

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

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)

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