I’m really pleased that one of the small charities that Dudley CVS has supported has been awarded funding from one of Dudley Council’s Community Forums (Netherton, Woodside and St. Andrews and Quarry Bank and Dudley Wood Community Forum) to set up a pilot project to help people build important social connections where they live.
Members of Netherton Regeneration Group, which we supported to gain charity status, had this to say about their plans:
Netherton Regeneration Group is setting up a pilot in the Darby End area to train volunteers to help lonely people to get out and about. We are setting up a network of street champions and lots of interesting and healthy activities open to all comers. We want to help people who are not able to get out easily, have lost touch with friends, need something to get them moving, get help with health problems, find out about healthy foods and exercise, but mainly to have some fun!
We have been awarded £2,300 from the Community Forum and hope to win some more funds through DMBC’s Innovation Fund for the Voluntary Sector.
Our idea is simple!
We will create a regular support group, to help people become more active and less isolated. People will be offered lots of fun activities including:
- cooking food together
- having a cup of tea and a chat
- making new friends
- learning to grow plants and vegetables
- cooking easy, healthy meals and sharing them
- taking part in healthy walks
- arts and crafts activities
- playing games and having a good time!
- practical community work to make Netherton a better place to live and work
- setting up a patients’ garden in the Health Centre courtyard over the next year! Instead of looking at weeds, we will be able to see fresh flowers and herbs that we have grown!! Funds are being provided from the Health Centre’s Patient Participation Group Purse to set up the garden.
Volunteers are needed now!
We will be training ten volunteers to help us run the programme and they will get free First Aid and Food Hygiene courses provided.
If you’re interested in helping to make any of this happen, please contact us using our Facebook page and letting us know what kinds of things you’d like to help with.
There’s been a marked increase recently in conversations around social connectedness and how that builds individual and communal resilience, combating loneliness and isolation. At national level the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness and its #Happytochat campaign, research done by Carnegie Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the place of kindness in communities and yesterday’s creation of a ministerial post on loneliness all point to a rising understanding that belonging and social connectedness are crucial for health, wellbeing and prosperity. The Chief Executive of NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations), Sir Stuart Ethertington has also made a strong statement of our sector’s central role in building a sense of belonging and connectedness.
More locally, these messages have been repeated:
- Last year that Dudley borough’s councillors supported Cllr Jackie Cowell’s motion to tackle loneliness and isolation
- At our AGM last year, our Chief Officer Andy Gray referred to the Carnegie Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s research on kindness and how that chimed with our own work within Dudley borough’s communities (skip to the 14:30 if you don’t have time to watch the whole video!)
- Public Health in collaboration with other partners is also leading work around loneliness and isolation, commissioning the Ideas Alliance to work with communities to explore how people can be supported, how things could be different in the future and opportunities for working in collaboration. There’s an event on this work specifically for voluntary and community organisations on 31st January
- CoLab Dudley team members have been doing and inviting people from all walks of life to get involved in all sorts of practical projects which build and strengthen connections. The team will be releasing a full report on its work very soon.
I’m really pleased that Netherton Regeneration Group is thinking about how its members can help people to get involved with building kinder communities and I like that there are lots of different opportunities to participate.
I’m sure there are lots of other ways people are building links with each other across Dudley borough, whether that’s on an individual level or through a group or charity. If you’re inspired to get involved, get in touch with Netherton Regeneration Group through its Facebook page or get in touch with us if you want to be linked to people doing good things somewhere else in Dudley borough.