Written by: Jo Atkinson
As we move forward towards starting actual physical community sessions again, let’s take a look back at how we have stayed connected with the community over the past few months.
Outreach: Our initial instinct was to fall back on good old outreach! Each week we planned a route to take in as many visits to community members as we could, often delivering food parcels, craft packs, always having a good old chin wag, and putting the world to rights!
Doing the outreach sessions has meant a lot to some of our more isolated members, a phone call is great, and our phone lines have been red hot, but actually seeing someone, having that human interaction makes all the difference. Knowing that we are valued by others is an important psychological factor in helping us to forget the negative aspects of our lives, and thinking more positively about our environment.
Online Facebook Drop In session: We tried zoom, but found that people were unsure about the technology, this created a barrier for some, which made us decide on a Facebook Live, bingo and quiz session. We have about 16 members join us for this, our community worker has found a new vocation, and will be heading straight for the West End after the pandemic!!
The chat facility that you get with FB Live, made it easy for people who haven’t seen or talked to each other for a while to communicate, with messages flying back and forth, jokes, life events discussed, support and commiserations.
Playing bingo has given a real lift to everyone, we bought some fantastic prizes in order to make it a real event to look forward to.
Craft Packs and food Parcels: Support with food was a given, with people being furloughed, people in self isolation due to health conditions and others who were having issues with benefits, being able to deliver food parcels was the very least we could do. Fareshare, Tigers Trust and St Mike’s youth club made deliveries of food several times a week to us, and we then in turn created the parcels and delivered them to those most in need. Now lock down has eased we are scaling down our parcel delivery, we are still preparing food parcels for those in need, but on a much smaller scale.
What did surprise us was the uptake of our craft pack service, everyone loves them!! We make well over 100 packs a week for young people and community members. Keeping a link with all who use Hessle Road Network is so important to us, and being able to put a smile on someone’s face has a been a great opportunity.
We are now moving forwards, with the first community session being held this week, and youth sessions not far behind, looking back on all we have achieved makes me so very proud to say I work at Hessle Road Network.
Written by: Jo Atkinson
The Very Virtual Event
We had so many plans for our #VEDay75 celebrations, with 2 months planning already under our belts before lock-down!
An afternoon tea extravaganza was to take place, the Community Committee had started to collect tea pots from charity shops, cups and saucers, cake plates and anything with WW2 nostalgia. We had an army of volunteers ready to dress in vintage clothes and waitress for our VIP's (the community). With entertainment from a concert pianist and an array of fancy foods donated from Sainsbury Bethune Ave, there was nothing stopping us!! HALT.... except that is, an invasion from an enemy we didn't expect and weren't prepared for.
Adapting to a new way of working was a struggle at first, a kind of shell shock set in, trying to hold on to all we knew, but tentatively moving forward towards a new normal. The professionalism of our Youth and Community staff soon kicked in, with renewed vigor and increased value for each other, the team pulled together.
We distributed craft packs of bunting to 100 local families, and ran a competition to win a luxury afternoon tea from a local deli, Vanucci's, encouraging the community to decorate their houses and post pictures of their exploits. Creating a buzz and lifting peoples spirits, allowing people to reach out to each other. VE Day was very different to the one we had originally planned, but thanks to such a great community, it turned out rather well in the end!
Written by: Jo Atkinson
The end of a course, but the beginning of so much more
Here at Hessle Road Network we were lucky to be coming towards the end of our very successful Employability Course, funded by ESF, CG5, just as the lock-down impacted the community. This meant our learners had all the support and opportunity offered by the course, and we have had great results, 30% into employment, 60% waiting to go into further education.
Our class of 2020 are a tight knit bunch, and some real friendships have blossomed, we know they are all offering each other support during this strange and challenging time, as are Hessle Road Network to our learners. We are supplying food parcels, craft packs for their children, activity packs for them, as well as links to employment information and online learning opportunities.
I know all we are doing is so much appreciated by the group, but by far, the thing they seem to look forward to the most, is the phone calls we make, checking in with them, chatting, laughing and hopefully offering a glimpse of better things to come.
A well deserved treat
Since August, the Girls Group has been working towards an incentive as a reward for good behaviour. Each week, the young people who attend would earn a credit based on behaviour in the session. This was to work towards a Pyjama Party that the young people asked for which we ran on Friday night.
Those who attended had an outstanding number of credits and so the party was an excellent reward for all their hard work and good behaviour in the sessions over the past 6 months.
The girls took part in an Escape Room, lots of party games, crafts, and ate lots of delicious food. The young people and staff had lots of fun and it was fantastic for the staff to see the young people rewarded for such brilliant behaviour – we can’t wait for the next one!