Hearts and Crafts: A lifeline for people in Sedgley

Hearts and Crafts group based in Sedgley is a social group where people can take part in a range of arts and crafts activities in a welcoming and supportive environment. It’s a place where people can learn new skills from their peers, share knowledge and get creative! Perhaps more importantly, it’s a place that nurtures people as well as their creativity.

I was introduced to Hearts and Crafts by my colleague Georgia, who through her role as Integrated Plus Link Support Worker has referred people to this group as a way of helping them to be more connected in their local community. The group has been running for 4 years, and it’s co-ordinated by a team that shares all the practical tasks. In fact, it’s become so popular that they’ve set up another session on the same day so that more people can attend and take part in comfort. There were at least 25 people when I paid the group a visit recently as part of the work I’m doing with Age UK Dudley. The knitting table was particularly busy!

At Hearts and Crafts, there are opportunities to take part in a range of creative activities. There’s a table for knitting, needlework and crochet, a table dedicated to papercrafts and another table for painting. People are free to choose to do as much or as little as they please and as I chatted to some of the members it became clear that Hearts and Crafts was less about what they did and more about the friendships that have been made there.

One lady didn’t find it easy to be among new people or in new situations. She was introduced to the group after someone struck up conversation with her at a party where she didn’t know many people. That one connection led her to tentatively joining the group. Now she’s a regular and gets involved in the papercrafts, chatting to her new friends and helping each other to design cards. She told me that this is the only place she goes, so she really looks forward to it every week. She walks there and she’s certain going to Hearts and Crafts gives her purpose and keeps her fit and active.

Over on the knitting table, participants were making all kinds of things for themselves and for others, sharing skills and encouraging each other. I was told that one of the participants who was knitting with such dexterity was recovering from a stroke. It was obvious how much people value Hearts and Crafts as participants told me that attending had given them a sense of purpose.

On the busy painting table, people of all abilities were trying out working with watercolours and acrylic. A gentleman was helping two people who had come for the first time, reassuring them that the worst that could happen was that their paintings might end up in the bin! By the end of the session, the two people had painted beautiful landscapes and they were looking forward to coming again. It’s that kind of welcome and encouragement that has made Hearts and Crafts so popular.
When I asked the gentleman about his painting, he told me that he’d been to a class in the 1990s and realised it was harder than it looked at first. But he persevered and now helps his wife to decorate cards that she makes. He loves painting and told me that he can forget all of his troubles by becoming immersed in his creativity. He comes to Hearts and Crafts specifically to help others to get the same benefits.

Another lady told me that Hearts and Crafts was her lifeline, especially after she’d been through a difficult period in her life. She was full of admiration for the team members who make Hearts and Crafts happen every week. She said that the team got upset when the group was so big that team members couldn’t get around to everyone to have a conversation with them; that was the reason for setting up another session later that day. It felt like the team has really fostered a sense of belonging and family as I was told that the team members would text people if the session had to be cancelled to save them setting out; whenever anyone missed a week, someone would be in touch to check everything was ok. It’s the kind of belonging that would help anyone feel connected and wanted.

Discover U – Providing work-related experience to adults with disabilities

Based in Wollaston, Discover U is a vibrant and welcoming space providing work-related experience to adults with disabilities. Discover U is not a daycare centre, it’s a charity working to support people who face barriers when getting into employment. It’s an environment where people can prosper and grow, fulfil their goals and reach their potential, a place to learn social, emotional, functional and employability skills. The people that go there are supported by volunteers to set their own goals and are helped to achieve them.

Discover U has a well-equipped wood workshop, garden area, front tea room and upstairs sewing room, most of which are busy every day. With materials donated by local businesses, they are able to turn unwanted pieces of wood, fabrics and bottles (some of which donated by the Brierley Hill Civic) into beautifully handcrafted and saleable items. They even have donations of fruit from people in the local community which they use to make cakes for the tea room. It’s now a community hub where local people can pop in for a hot drink, a cake, and look at all the wonderful items for sale.

You only have to look around the workshop to see the passion to learn, the creativity, the enjoyment and sense of pride in the products they have made. Everywhere you look there are beautifully made high-quality products, Bee Hotels, bird boxes, bottle lights, knitted tea cosies, cushions, chairs, you name it…they have probably made it! They even made our wooden awards for the Dudley CVS Volunteer Awards last year.

It’s a wonderful hive of activity. Lorna is busy drawing up ideas for her next recycled bottle project; she shows us her sketchbook full of ideas and designs. James has invested his time learning about safeguarding and what you need to do to keep people safe. Thanks to James, Discover U is now recognised as a Safe Place to visit in Dudley. Kieran is busy tidying up the cabin shop showing us the variety of products for sale. Darren tells us how he wants to work as a painter and decorator having learnt painting skills in the workshop.

Discover U members come from a variety of backgrounds, together they are building a vibrant, fun and pleasant working environment.

Everybody plays an important part, whether it’s in the design of a new concept, the manufacturer or the sale of a product at the end. Everybody’s involved in the process right from the very start and they take pride in what they’re doing.

In the workshop, they are supervised and learn how to use power tools. When they have passed their food hygiene course they can then work in the kitchen and serve customers. Operating the till helps them to learn about money management, it also helps them to improve their social skills by interacting with customers.

Steve Smith, one of the founders of Discover U, tells us of how for so long they have been told ‘you can’t do it because…’, at Discover U, volunteers will support people to do tasks on their own, build their confidence and tell them ‘you can do it!’

We hope you enjoy this short film we have made to spotlight this amazing group in Dudley.

If you would like to find out more about Discover U, visit their website www.discoveru2015.org or Facebook page. Or why not pay them a visit? They are open Mon-Thu from 9.30 until 4, they also have a stall at Kingswinford market on most Saturdays during the warmer months.

 

Bored to Tears

There are over 6000 people in Dudley who have been diagnosed with COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and most likely many more undiagnosed. COPD might be something you have never even heard of – or might affect you personally, but it is a condition that is supported by the Dudley Airtime group. The group is facilitated by Integrated Plus, a Dudley CVS social prescribing project,  have been meeting since 2016 at DY1 Community Building on Stafford Street, where the group is held each Thursday from 1pm. The aim of the group, funded through The Health Foundation, and most recently through Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health, is to provide a peer-led group supporting people with respiratory conditions, to reduce social isolation and take pressure off the NHS by reducing hospital admissions and GP surgery appointments that relate to the disease, by providing a safe, caring environment for people to learn how to control and manage their condition better, meet with others experiencing similar challenges, and to take part in enjoyable activities, with lashings of tea and cake of course.

Airtime Dudley has made a particular impact on the life of Angela, who has been attending the group since August 2016. At this time, Angela was feeling increasingly low in mood, had become very isolated, and had no peer groups – in fact she was, in her own words, “bored to tears”.

Angela has made many friends through attending Airtime, and being part of the group has had a wider impact on her, and others. She now supports Airtime through identifying speakers to attend and present to the group. Through Airtime, Angela came into contact with Healthwatch Dudley and gave a talk to The Peoples Network about Airtime. She went on to become a member of The Peoples Network and now supports recruitment within the NHS, and sits on the Voluntary Sector Innovation Fund panel. She was also part of a team tasked with simplifying Dudley Safeguarding online process. Angela keeps a portfolio of all the work she does with Dudley Healthwatch and The Peoples Network, and explained that ‘I would never have been connected with the if it wasn’t for Airtime’

Angela has also gone on to support the creation of a general social group – ‘Friday Friends’, and has supported people with other conditions, such as ME, to make friends and connect. She has even completed a sponsored walk for The Lung Foundation, raising £100. Angela also has begun to meet some new friend’s she has made at a local social club.

Along with some other members of the Airtime Group, Angela worked on simplifying information for Dudley Council employees. A large book, detailing many long term health conditions and illnesses. These are now condensed to a simple A4 handout, giving a brief explanation of each condition or illness.

Through Winter Warmth attending Airtime to give a talk on their services, Angela has had a new boiler installed at home, as well as a wet room and stair lift installed into her property after Winter Warmth put her in contact with Dudley Home Improvement Service.

Angela has kept a portfolio of all the work she has been involved in with the council and Healthwatch Dudley, and is very proud of the changes she has helped to implement. Angela said that she would never have been in a position to be asked to do this work without being a member of Airtime. It was due to Airtime that those connections were made and cultivated.

The Airtime project was evaluated by Coventry University, who has produced a short video on their findings, in which Angela, and other members of the group feature below.

 

Angela feels coming to the group have transformed her life. ‘Airtime has given me quality of life, has built my confidence and I have made lots of good friends. We’re not labelled at no good, not fit for anything…I’ve had a new lease of life.

Airtime Dudley is free and runs each Thursday from 1pm – 3pm at DY1 Community Building, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT and is open to anyone suffering with a chronic ling conditions such as COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or bronchiectasis.

Friday Friends is also based at the DY1 Community Building, and runs on the second and last Friday of each month from 1pm – 3pm. A small charge of £1 is asked to cover refreshments and is open to the general public looking to meet with others and socialise.

New members are welcome, and for any further information please feel free to contact Terry Gee on 01384 217056

A place to connect and make lasting friendships: Lye Men’s Group

The idea for The Men’s Group began in 2015 when my colleague Nick Tromans, the Integrated Plus Locality Link Officer for Stourbridge, Wollescote and Lye, had a high number of referrals for men with similar mental health needs and social isolation.  This led Nick to Reverend Simon Falshaw the Vicar from Christ Church in Lye and they discussed the need to offer a place for men to come and connect with each other.  The church was interested in supporting the idea and offered the church hall as a place to host the group.  A successful funding bid to the Near Neighbours Fund was approved and this helped start the group and pay for room hire.

The main factor for the success of the group is the volunteers who help run the group, they set up the room, serve refreshments and ensure a warm and friendly welcome to everybody who attends.  They can empathise with the group because they have had similar experiences and are well placed to offer peer to peer support.  Andrew was the first volunteer and he fostered an atmosphere of calm, respect and empathy.  Unfortunately, Andrew died suddenly in 2017 but his ethos remains within the group. Nick and I are involved in some aspects of the running of the group but the volunteers are the mainstay of the group and are vital and committed to its ongoing success.

The group has blossomed and three years on it is still going strong.  We have men aged from 19 to 90 in the group.  Over 130 men have attended the group in total and there are around 20-25 men from a pool of about 40 who attend every week.  Over the past few years we have had lots of activities at the group including, Get Cooking courses, glass engraving, bread making and well-being sessions.  The group also have regular cooked breakfasts, pool and darts tournaments and celebrations for Eid and Christmas.  There is no pressure for anybody to be involved in the activities and they are welcome to come and have a cup of tea and do their own thing.

Peer support reduces loneliness and isolation and improves self-esteem and confidence, this is certainly evident in the group.  Many positive and enduring friendships have been made by those attending the group.  People attend together and those in the group with limited mobility and difficulty attending have lifts arranged with friends they have met in the group.  If somebody has not attended in a while people rally round and see if they can help.  Friends meet outside of the group and do social activities together and meet at each other’s homes independent of the group, some have even gone on holiday together.  Another major reason for the success of the group is the non-judgemental attitude of all who attend and volunteer, it is inspiring and makes for a smoothly run and supportive group.

Barry began attending the group supported by his wife and Nick and has now become a regular attendee.  He has made new friends who he looks forward to spending time with in the group.  His friendships have developed further and he now meets up with his new friends outside of the group at home and in social situations.  Barry said he was not aware of any groups or activities like this in his local area and he said the group and the friendships he has made have ‘lifted me off the floor and given me something to look forward to.’

Those men who attend who can afford to make a donation can contribute to the running of the session.  Using an asset-based approach and working in partnerships with the local council and other organisations has enabled the group to run for little cost and has further helped the success of the group.

If you would like more information about the Men’s Group contact gary@dudleycvs.org.uk

Find out more about how Integrated Plus are supporting people to become more involved, connected and active in their communities at https://integratedplusblog.com/about/

Building friendships for people with dementia and their carers in Brierley Hill

Meet Paul and Alison. They’re the team behind the lovely Alzheimer’s and Friendship Group that meets at the Storehouse in Brierley Hill on most Monday evenings. It’s a place where people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and their carers can come to meet others, share mutual support and make friends.

I visited them recently to learn more about them and what the group means to the people that attend.

As soon as I got to the door, I was greeted by Paul, who welcomed me into the Storehouse coffee shop which was laid out nicely so that everyone could see and talk to each other, or talk in smaller groups if they wanted to. I introduced myself to everyone and soon people started telling me their own stories about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, which I think was a sign of how comfortable they felt in their surroundings.

Paul and Alison clearly have time for everyone who walks through the door, helping them to feel welcome, wanted and comfortable. This is something that they’ve been doing for the past nine years; I was bowled over to learn that the group had been going for that long, just over the road from my office!

Back in 2009, Paul, who has a background of working with people with dementia, met someone who couldn’t go out because of their caring role. In response to this, he and Alison, who worked with older people, thought about providing respite, a space for people with dementia while their carers got some time to themselves. They spoke to Albion Street Church, who agreed to let Paul and Alison use some space, first in the church itself and then in the Storehouse when it was refurbished. The Church also holds a small budget for the group which they can dip into for things like refreshments and entertainment, though they rarely use it and make sure it goes a long way!

Over the years, the group has been flexible to the wishes of its participants. While some carers have brought their loved ones and taken advantage of the respite offered, other carers have stayed with their loved ones and participated in the activities. At the moment, the regular participants are all former carers, who continue to attend for the companionship they have gained over the years; none of the participants knew each other before they started attending the group. Some come from as far as Sedgley because of their shared experiences of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. As we all shared our emotional experiences of loving and losing someone with Alzheimer’s, it did feel good to take some solace from people who had experienced it too. I can completely see how the Alzheimer’s and Friendship Groups helps people to feel less isolated.

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On the evening of my visit, we were treated to some entertainment from Rachel a talented  musician, who played a range of pieces on saxophone. As a music obsessive myself, this was a peaceful treat and I think everyone enjoyed it! In fact, Alzheimer’s Society says that

evidence suggests that the brain processes music differently to other functions, allowing people with dementia to enjoy songs and music long after other abilities are challenged.

Rachel is connected to the Church herself and she gave her time and skills freely to entertain us for a couple of hours on a Monday night. This group really is a great example of how great things can happen with the right ingredients: people with a passion; a friendly venue and a supportive organisation behind them; good connections which can be mobilised for very little outlay. This is why I hadn’t heard of the group before: they have everything they need to succeed!

Of course, this group is open to new members, whether they’re carers, cared-for, or both. So if you’re interested in making new friends in a supportive environment, the Alzheimer’s a Friendship Group meets on Monday evenings February-December (except bank holidays), 6pm onwards.

It’s wonderful that the Alzheimer’s and Friendship Group exists. According to figures from Alzheimer’s Society:

  • 225,000 people will develop dementia this year – one every three minutes
  • There are 670,000 carers of people with dementia in the UK
  • In 2015, an estimated 850,000 people were living with dementia

So there’s room for groups like this and others to create supportive environments for carers and their loved ones. In fact, in Coseley residents have been coming together to develop a Dementia Friendly Cinema to help people with dementia to stay connected in their community. Using a wonderful guide from Alzheimer’s Society to make small adaptations to help people with dementia feel safe and supported, they’ve had one screening and are planning another soon. The next screening will be Some Like It Hot on Tuesday 16 October, at 2pm. To register for this, please visit the Coseley Community Cinema page.

If you’d like to get more involved with either the Alzheimer’s and Friendship Group or the Coseley Dementia Cinema, then please feel free to get in touch and I’ll link you with them.

Staying active with Mary Stevens Park Sons and Daughters of Rest

Mary Stevens Park in Stourbridge is an undeniably beautiful place to be. Whether you’re taking part in sport, walking the dog, enjoying a picnic or just watching the world go by, it’s a place that helps you to relax.

And based within the park is a group of people helping each other to make the most of later life, stay active and build a friendly and supportive community. They’re known as Mary Stevens Park Sons and Daughters of Rest and they have a range of activities for anyone over 55. There are currently 70 or so members to get to know!

One of the activities group members participate in is bowls. The group has around 30 bowlers of all abilities; some bowl competitively against other clubs, others for the fun and exercise. The group’s bowling section has the bowling green on Monday afternoon, all day Wednesday and Friday afternoon. On Friday mornings they use the bowling green to run beginners bowls sessions, which are open to anyone of any age who would like to learn how to play bowls.

Helena and I recently paid the beginners sessions a visit on a sunny Friday morning where we met and chatted to some of the bowlers about what they enjoy about the sessions. Immediately members asked if we’d like to try, but neither of us was brave enough to give it a go!

We learned about some of the people taking part. One bowler told us that he used to bowl competitively but had stopped more than a decade ago. He wasn’t sure he would be able to play after double knee replacement surgery, so he started getting fitter by walking around the park, the distance of a mile, which took 15 minutes. It was on one of these walks that he saw the beginners bowlers sessions, so he took the plunge to see if he could bowl again. Now he covers more ground by bowling than when he walked a circuit of the park, so he’s much more active now.

Another member told us that he’d always been sporty, and that he enjoys playing bowls because he can’t do high intensity sports like cricket or football anymore. He enjoys playing in 4s and sometimes it can get competitive in a good-natured way. He told us that it’s good to meet new people at these sessions.

Stourbridge Sons and Daughters of Rest

A third member told us it was his first week there, so we asked him the obvious question “Will you be back for more?” Of course the answer was a resounding “Yes”. We’re not surprised at all. What came across to both of us was how welcoming, social and warm everyone was both towards us and to each other. Members agreed that the camaraderie of playing bowls together was brilliant for their health and wellbeing.

But if bowls isn’t your thing, there are other activities on offer and people can participate in as little or as much as they want. The Sons and Daughters of Rest meet three times a week, 12noon-4pm, and members have access to the group’s building every day. Members get together for a cuppa and a chat or for hobbies such as darts, dominoes, snooker, cards and pool. Whatever the activity, we know new people will be made really at home in this welcoming group.

Mary Stevens Sons and Daughters of Rest

If you would like to get involved, call Jim Griffiths (Chairperson) on 07918 197197 or look out for the Sons and Daughters of Rest in Mary Stevens Park, near the bowling green.

The groups making new friends on Wednesdays and Fridays

As part of the work I’m doing with Age UK to understand and celebrate the local activities that keep people connected, I’ve been meeting groups that help people to build new friendships in Brierley Hill and Dudley.

New Friends meets at 8pm every Wednesday at the Storehouse in Brierley Hill. I visited them recently and enjoyed an evening of conversation, quizzing and laughter!

The informal group was set up by Barbara, who wanted to expand her social circle after losing people close to her. So Barbara posted on Facebook, asking others if they would like to get together, meet new people and become friends, using this poem to grab people’s attention:

I used to have a comfort zone, where I knew I couldn’t fail.
The same four walls of busy work were really more like a jail.
I longed so much to do things I’d never done before, but stayed inside my safe comfortable zone and paced the same old floor.
I said it didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing much,
I said I didn’t care for things like dreams & goals and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside my zone, but deep down inside I longed for something special of my own.
I couldn’t let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath and stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step, and with new strength I’d never felt before, I kissed my comfort zone goodbye, then closed and locked the door.
Anon.

Barbara said “I felt like that after losing so many people out of my life in one year. So I started New Friends. Lots of people messaged me, over a thousand in 12 hours! 25 came the first night of meetings, majority stayed, until their confidence grew, and some picked up their life and started employment. Others just moved on to pastures new.”

New Friends now has 8 regular attendees who play games, share food, do quizzes or just have a natter. Everyone decides what they would like to do; occasionally they go out for meals and they’ve discussed taking trips together. Whatever they do, they have fun, end up laughing and the hours whiz by!

New Friends

Some of the New Friends and their leftover cake!

Group members would love more people to join them, but they recognise that it’s not just about how many turn up, it’s about the quality of the friendships they’ve made and the impact the friendships have had on their wellbeing.

None of the members knew each other before joining the group. Now they’re in touch with each other not only once a week when they meet, but on their Facebook group and chatline, swapping stories, guidance and supporting each other. When I chatted to them, every member said they felt the benefits to their wellbeing since joining.

It’s the second time I’ve joined New Friends for the evening; each time I’ve gone, I’ve felt a boost myself. I’ve been inspired by how open, warm and friendly everyone is, as well as by the simple things that Barbara does to help people feel at ease, like arranging chairs in a circle and meeting new people outside so they don’t have to walk in on their own for the first time.

New Friends flyer

So why not take the plunge and join New Friends? As Barbara says, “The hardest thing is stepping out your own front door and entering another by yourself. Please take that step, come n have a lof!” If you’re interested, you can ask to join the New Friends Facebook group or text or call the New Friends mobile number on 07491 798705 (text is best and Barbara will get back to you). Alternatively, just drop at the Storehouse, 2 Albion Street, Brierley Hill, DY5 3EE on Wednesday at 8pm.

 

Friday Friends currently meets on the second and last Friday of each month at 1pm at DY1 in Dudley.

Friday Friends developed when some members of Airtime, a group supporting people with respiratory conditions, felt that they would like to get together on another day to be with their newly-made friends more often. Like New Friends, Friday Friends is open to absolutely anyone over the age of 16, including people and their carers. Friday Friends now has regular members, some of whom are not members of Airtime.

Members decide exactly what they would like to do. When I visited, we chatted about each other’s weeks to help break the ice and we all took part in a couple of quizzes to get the brain firing! Once more, the stories of why people attended were very similar; it was about social contact being important for their emotional well being, getting out of the house and preventing isolation.

Some of the Friday Friends I met!

Friday Friends have plans to do more structured activities, such as bringing in occasional speakers on health, wellbeing and safety, having classes such as tai chi and massage. The group would like to build up its membership before committing to these activities, but current members know that it’s about the connections they’ve made and the supportive networks they’ve built simply by getting together twice a month that are more important than the activities they do! Again, when I met with members, I was struck by how welcoming and friendly they were, supporting each other to participate in inclusive ways. I’d also told Friday Friends members about New Friends and was so pleased when two members suggested they pay them a visit, so I hope that the two groups become friends themselves!

Anyone is welcome to join Friday Friends on the second and last Friday of the month, 1pm at DY1, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT. For more information, you can ask to join the Friday Friends Facebook group.

 

The story of one Young Health Champion.

The Dudley Young Health Champions Project went live in September 2016. The project is funded by Dudley CCG and Dudley Office for Public Health, based within Healthwatch Dudley and hosted by Dudley CVS. The project aims to provide youth-led and creative opportunities for young people aged 11-25 to become Young Health Champions and get involved in a variety of health based projects and activities. The aim is to increase young people’s resilience and give greater access to accurate and young person focused information on health related matters. To date the project has a network of over 85 Young Health Champions who are involved in a variety of schools, colleges and voluntary sector services.  Projects range from group activities to one off campaigns, fundraising and awareness raising. The project provides a bridge between young people and decision makers so that young people have the opportunity to have their voices heard and influence future services. A large part of the project focuses around the increasing challenges to mental health that young people experience. The project has a regular volunteer Becky who whilst developing her own projects manages the DYHC blog and Twitter page -Faye Hall (Dudley Young Health Champion’s Project Coordinator.)

I’m Becky, I’m a 19 year old girl and before volunteering with DYHC, I had completed a 3 month course with The Princes Trust and was then referred to the project through Just Straight Talk to help build and develop my confidence after struggling with severe mental health difficulties for 7/8 years of my life which affected aspects of my life including my education. Due to facing constant battles in my day to day life I find communicating with other people and having the confidence to do ‘simple’ things incredibly difficult. I have been involved with Dudley Young Health Champions since May/June 2017 and volunteer 2-3 days per week. As Faye said above, I administrate the project blog and twitter page and help lead and plan youth led projects. In November/ December I organised a Christmas collection for the homeless to support Vi Wood from Leslie’s Care Packages and we had an amazing outcome and are now collecting baby essentials for mums and mums to be as part of Vi’s next project. I have held 2 bake sales in order to raise money for YoungMinds Charity and have also helped run Get Cooking sessions over the summer of 2017. I have attended various high level meetings with professionals including the Children’s Safeguarding board as well as completing many different training sessions such as Thrive and ASIST (led by Papyrus). I have been part of the Children’s Alliance Strategy and the Suicide Prevention Strategy. Myself and Faye were invited to the ITV Studios in London with the Fixers organisation to join a campaign on ‘Fixing My Anxiety’ and took part in the Neon Run for Mary Stevens Hospice along with HealthWatch staff.

I have been working on an arts- based project with Faye where I have created 11 paintings that each portray different emotions and feelings a person with a mental illness may experience and that I have experienced myself throughout my battle. Feelings such as anxiety, depression, isolation and shame, each paining is being turned into a post card and have a descriptive narrative on the reverse as well as ways to manage and a positive affirmation. Once I had completed the paintings, myself and Faye started to work with the Fixers organisation who are helping me create a 2-3 minute video where my artwork will be displayed on a backdrop, an actress will be acting out different movements and a dialogue will be played. Once the pack is all put together, we will be holding a launch in March time and the pack will be distributed amongst services such as CAMHS, GP surgeries, schools and youth based organisations.

Along with another Young Health Champion, I was awarded with the Ray McGuirk Young Volunteer of the Year at the DVA’s 2017. I have been given so many opportunities since being a part of the project and there are a lot more ahead of me!

 

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Voluntary Sector Multi-Speciality Community Provider (MCP) engagement session

On 7th November 2017, Dudley CVS hosted with Dudley CCG a session with voluntary organisations and community groups across Dudley borough on Dudley’s new MCP.

Purpose of session

Following the launch of the procurement process for Dudley’s Multispecialty Community Provider (MCP) in June, Dudley CCG recently announced the bidder that has made it through to the next stage of the procurement process.

Since September 2017, Dudley CCG has been going through a dialogue process with a consortium involving four local NHS Trusts and local GPs. The four trusts are – Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The new Multispecialty Community Provider (MCP) will bring together services in an integrated manner and will:

  • hold a contract of up to 15 years’ duration;
  • manage a single, whole-population budget;
  • transform the access to and delivery of community health and care services with Primary Care at the centre, and meet a defined set of outcome and performance measures.

As part of the dialogue phase, Dudley CVS hosted in partnership with Dudley CCG this engagement event for the voluntary sector with the potential consortia. This event enabled the voluntary sector to learn about proposed plans for the MCP and an opportunity to observe and engage in discussions on pre-set questions about how the potential bidder intends to engage with the sector over 10 – 15 years to meet the outcomes of the MCP.

For detailed notes from the meeting view the document below:

My week working at Dudley CVS

At Dudley CVS we’re passionate about nurturing young people to develop their skills and experience a possible future career path. Last week we had the pleasure of meeting Evie Colesby, a work experience student, who spent a week working with our teams at Dudley CVS. It was great to have such an enthusiastic self-starter on board and an extra pair of hands in the lead up to our AGM and Volunteer Awards! Here’s what Evie thought about her time at Dudley CVS…

“Early last year I was told by my school that I had to try and find work experience for a week in October. Typically, most of my class left it to their parents or our teacher to organise. However, I sat down with my parents and we spoke about what I was potentially interested in doing with my life. It’s such an overwhelming prospect, a 14 year old trying to decipher what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives! After mulling over several ideas I decided, because I’m very creative, fields that seemed very interesting to me were media, marketing and comms. Granted, I may have let my mom take the lead, however, I am so glad I did! She knew Eileen, volunteer manager at Dudley CVS, through work they had done together with volunteers before, and Eileen so very kindly offered to have me. At Dudley CVS they have made me feel so very welcome, even at a time of stress (the week before the awards!), they have never failed to include me and help me get stuck into tasks I can do to help.

Dudley CVS is an infrastructure charity supporting voluntary, community and faith sectors in Dudley borough, they also support social enterprises. I have learnt, in a nutshell, that the Dudley CVS team work incredibly hard to support, to advise, and to train local people to benefit their organisations.

Throughout the week commencing 9th October, I spent my time moving from Albion Street to DY1 Venue. In this time I met some of the nicest people, everyone is so caring and giving. I was shocked at the amount of work they were all so willing and happy to put in to help others.

MONDAY 9th OCTOBER: On Monday I had a little induction with Eileen and met the team at Albion Street, who were all very lovely. Seeing as everyone was preparing for the awards on Wednesday 18th I became an extra pair of hands to help with this. Meaning I was doing all sorts like putting certificates in frames for the main award winners and organising which certificates went onto which tables. I also met Dale and Steph, the admin staff (who were lovely!) and they asked me to make phone calls regarding the awards and proxy votes etc.

TUESDAY 10th OCTOBER: The morning of Tuesday consisted of finishing off the phone calls made on Monday. And then at midday Eileen and I went to a volunteer celebrations at Live at Home (http://www.mha.org.uk/community-support/live-home/), which was so interesting! I met the mayor and had some great conversations with the volunteers, who received their certificates from the Volunteer Awards. I also learnt about volunteering as a community and the help received for this to happen.

WEDNESDAY 11th OCTOBER: Wednesday was one of my favourite days, I went to the DY1 Venue and met Mel, Faye and Becky from Healthwatch (http://healthwatchdudley.co.uk/). I started the morning by talking to Mel about how varied a comms role can be and how I might like to be involved with comms. We also proofread the annual report and I helped her make some adjustments so that it could be sent off to print. She then told me about a new project they are working on based around neglect in communities, and what it means to thrive (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thrive-in-dudley-learn-it-try-it-celebrate-tickets-38433770442), we spoke about how we could present this campaign to young people and how it could be promoted in schools. This was all before lunch!

After lunch, I met Faye and Becky (a young health champion) and we went to “Gather” (https://en-gb.facebook.com/gatherdudleycic/), a café with lovely food and a great atmosphere, where they invite anyone in the community to come along to events held there or just to go for a sandwich and a drink.

“So many people have so much to give and we want to bring them all together to help make Dudley the place where things happen.”

I spoke to Faye and Becky about the young health champions and what they do for Dudley, and that Becky had raised lots of money for mental health charities. We then went back to DY1 Venue and we spoke about how to construct a press release and how a USP makes a more creative and improved marketing campaign.

THURSDAY 12th OCTOBER: In the morning I went to an event at DY1 Venue called “Navigating Difficult Times”, this was basically a chance to have a coffee and connect whilst doing so. I met the staff involved with organising this, obviously I already knew Eileen and I had met Martin on Monday too. But I was introduced to John, Helena and Andy. Who each spoke to everyone there, I learnt about what funders are looking for from Martin, how to effectively network, sell yourself and your company from Andy, and Helena spoke about how Dudley CVS support groups with their communications, The Echo, (their newsletter) and annual report for 2016/17.

Navigating difficult times and getting the support you need event

Navigating Difficult Times event

FRIDAY 13th OCTOBER: On my last day I went to Holly Hall Secondary with Nicki and Donna to promote and launch a programme called izone (http://izone.org.uk/). The programme is basically a way of allowing young people in the community to have a platform where they can fall back to if they’re struggling with things such as mental wellbeing, relationships, finance and lots more. The website and app also offer a link to “giving back” this allows young people to get involved with the community and help or support others. I also went to a few of the other talks given by other corporations such as St John’s Ambulance and the Fire Service. I then came back to Albion Street where Eileen and I completed my assessment and reports of the week, I was glad to know it was all positive feedback!

My week at Dudley CVS has been very interesting and my experience has been so welcoming and inclusive. I’d like to also use this as an opportunity to thank everyone I have been working with this week, I appreciated that they all treated me like an adult and involved me in everything, especially seeing as I was there on the busiest week of the year! I hope I was helpful as an extra pair of hands and didn’t get in the way or further stress anyone out. The lessons I have learnt this week I will definitely take forward with me, to consider my future career. It has been such a valuable and important experience that I have also thoroughly enjoyed, so thank you!

On Wednesday 18th October I have been invited to the awards (https://dva2017.wordpress.com/) to take informal photographs and to see the amazing commitment and hard work endured within volunteering. I am really looking forward to the night as I have been told by everyone how fabulous it is when it has all come together! This is also something Eileen asked me to do because I had participated (a very small role) in making the awards happen, which I think is a real privilege and compliment from them, as the event is so important.”

A thank you to Evie, our volunteer photographer and work experience student with the Mayor of Dudley and Mike Abrahams, Dudley CVS Chairman

We wish Evie all the best in her future and thank her for joining us last week. Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for Evie’s volunteer awards photos at www.dva2017.wordpress.com