It’s that time of the year again, when the people who make Medway better are recognised with nominations in the Pride in Medway awards.
We’re delighted that one of The Net and WALT’s joint volunteers, Jean Judge, has been recognised in the Volunteer of the Year category following her nomination by WALT.
An invaluable resource, Jean – seen above with many of the members – helps with shopping, home visits, taking people to medical appointments and social events, as well as bringing them to the hub to meet friends for a natter over a cuppa.
Jean says: “I feel extremely proud to get this recognition and I thoroughly enjoy doing what I do – it keeps me out of mischeif! I’m happy I can make a contribution to helping people stay socially active and not be left sitting indoors alone”.
WALT’s volunteer co-ordinator, Sharon O’Flynn, says: “Jean was our second ever volunteer and has been with us for two and a half years – now our longest serving. We love her to bits. She’s reliable and friendly and nothing is ever too much trouble. Nominating her for an award was a no-brainer, she absolutely deserves it.”
The awards are now in their 17th year and is made up of eight categories: Charity Fundraiser; Community Service; Good Carer; Green Champion; Health and Hospital; Young Heroes, Sports Coach of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.
Judges including Medway Council, Medway Messenger, Uniper, mhs Homes and Mid Kent College will meet to decide the winners, with the results due in the next couple of months.
We received the most fantastic piece of news recently – the Cooperative has chosen us as one of the causes it will support in Medway in 2019!
The Co-op Local Community Fund helps to support local projects that its members care about. Since its launch in 2017, Co-op members have raised £39 million pounds for over 12,000 local causes. We’re delighted that we will now be able to access this funding opportunity, which will help keep our weekly cafe open for local residents to continue to meet their friends.
As a member, every time you shop at the Co-op, 1% of what you spend on Co-op branded products and services helps fund community projects. You can shop at any Co-op Group stores across the UK to raise money for our cause.
Please choose us by signing into your membership account or by calling the membership helpline on 0800 023 4708. We’ll be available for you to select until November 2019. If you don’t yet have a membership card, simply ask for one the next time you’re in your local store, and register to support us.
You can view our profile page here – considering we haven’t told anyone yet, it’s pleasing to see funds are already coming through!
I suspect we’ll be down at the Walderslade store in due course, helping you pack – make sure you come and say hello!
We’re thrilled that our local MP, Tracey Crouch, has agreed to become Patron of The Net Community Hub. Her role as Minister for Sport and Civil Society also now encompasses being Minister for Loneliness, the reduction of which is our key objective.
Hub Manager Jaye spoke with Tracey during her official first visit to the hub recently, to find out what steps are being undertaken to address social isolation nationwide and how hubs like ours can make such a difference.
“Firstly, thank you for asking me to be Patron, it’s a real honour to be asked. This is a hub that has developed over time into something amazing – I remember being here and painting it when it was first being turned into the community hub as it is now. At the time all I saw was a shell, and what you see now is a really vibrant community spirit with people laughing and giggling; there’s a lot of new people here making new connections that they may not have realised they needed to have.
“In terms of activities in this area, I’ve always been really fond of Walderslade, it reminds me of where I grew up in West Hythe – out of the main town so with a slight disconnect between some of the areas, quite often forgotten – so I’m really fond of Walderslade – the people here are hilarious and warm and because of that warmth, it’s easy to forget about the real challenges they face and that there are parts of Walderslade that face real deprivation. So just being able to put something back into the community, whether it’s a litter pick or supporting painting of a new community hub, is just something that’s nice to do.
“From a Member of Parliament perspective you see so many people in the community when they reach crisis point and sadly they’re not necessarily aware of some of the activities that are out there for them that may well have prevented them getting to that crisis point. This is why I think hubs like this are absolutely essential. I now see that on a national scale from a loneliness perspective and making those connections is so important.
“Locally, you can make a real difference. When I’m home and go out on a litter pick, something as simple as that, you can see the difference you’ve made; if cleaning graffiti off a wall, again, it’s an immediate difference. Sometimes, it’s very difficult as an MP in the national parliament and you’re working on national legislation, as you don’t necessarily see the difference you’re making due to the long implementation process of legislation you’re involved in. Here, there’s an instant change and working on the casework as an MP, with people coming in talking to me about the support they need, is actually the most rewarding aspect. Just this morning, I bumped into someone who wanted to thank me for something I did three years ago to help her, and she got quite emotional. It’s nice to meet the people we help, and it’s much more rewarding to be here and visible instead of just having a electronic or phone conversation.
“The loneliness strategy is out now and you will see in it a great deal of connectivity between service providers. Obviously you’ve got the council involved but actually what you want to see is more people being involved, like the doctors’ surgeries, making people come and connect to their local communities. 1 in 5 GP appointments are not medically based but actually driven by loneliness and actually if you can reduce that by encouraging people to come to a community hub, meet new people, learn new skills and do some exercise then that’s a great leap forward.
“The Chairobics and Time to Talk activities that the Net is doing are absolutely brilliant. I’m a big fan of talking therapies, mindfulness and meditation, and the sooner doctors’ surgeries begin to prescribe mindfulness to people the better. And sometimes, these smaller, cosy sessions work better than sessions in a big, more clinical space.”
Huge thanks to Tracey for her time and her support for the Hub. We look forward to playing our part in the overall national strategy.
Thanks to funding from the Kent Police Property Fund, we’ve secured our monthly arts and crafts cafe for the next 12 months.
It takes place on the fourth Thursday in the month from 1.30-3.30pm, and the additional funding will allow us to buy more specific craft materials to work with.
Just £2 per person includes refreshments. You can bring along your own project to work on, anything from crochet to painting, or you can use from our stock. And if you just want to drop in for a cuppa, that’s absolutely fine too!