Energy Know How received a call from Derek (group organiser) at the end of October 2022. He had been speaking to someone he knows that had attended (or had connections to) the dementia cafes in Rotherham. They had mentioned that we had given information about energy help schemes and access to free draught proofing and he wanted to know if it was possible to talk to his group of pensioners who were all football fans.
He explained they meet on Mondays at Brentwood hotel to discuss the weeks football, and that there are around 25 of them. Derek suggested talking to the group as a whole which I agreed to but then offered to go around afterwards to check whether anyone had any questions they did not want to ask in front of everyone. Sharon agreed they would attend on 7th November.
Noor and Sharon attended. After the group had discussed the weeks games and analysed their team’s performance, they joined them. They explained the help schemes that are currently available to help people with the current energy crisis, they discussed ways to save energy including having smart meters and energy saving tips. They also explained about the greendoctor service.
The group were very engaging and asked lots of questions, this was the most in-depth and engaging group that they had visited so far and almost everyone had something to add or a question to ask. It was fantastic to have such detailed conversations with a group of gentlemen who would ordinarily have only discussed football.
Several of the attendees requested visits from the greendoctor service for draught proofing measures and all attendees were offered a print of the help schemes to take away for reference or to share with friends and family.
Over the last year the group have formed a small gardening group that maintain the communal garden at Peregrine Way Neighbourhood Centre, Through the summer the group have worked to bring the space back to life, installing new fence panels, rebuilding the raised beds, and planting a wide range of new plants, but this isn’t the end of the groups plans for the space. The group took part in the Harthill Garden trail through the summer, to highlight their hard work
The group decided they would enhance the garden by getting a greenhouse so they can grow their own plants for the centres many pots and raised beds this will also allow them to enjoy the garden in the colder months while still making the centre brighter and more inviting to residents. The group held a Christmas Fair this month with craft stalls and raffles that have raised the money they needed for the greenhouse and are now looking forward to it being installed early next year ready to start growing next year’s plants.
Not wanting to stop there, the group applied for funding for a memorial bench to commemorate lost members this is intended to be a quiet space where the group will be planting bright flowers all year round, I’m pleased to say they were successful in this and the benches have now been installed and the future is looking sunny for the group moving into the new year.
Oliva has only been receiving the befriending calls for two months, she originally started them as she moved from the London area to Rotherham to live with her partner. She left all of her family and friends and the move really affected her social life and this made her feel very lonely with only her partner to talk to.
She has spoken to the same volunteer who is about the same age and had a very similar experience with moving a long distance away from family and friends. Their conversations have included ways that the volunteer made friends and encouraged Olivia to get out of her comfort zone a bit to meet new people.
Fiona her volunteer suggested some craft groups in the area and exercise classes, Olivia has recently joined 2 different dance groups and is looking at joining the crafting groups after the new year, Olivia has said that she never would have found the courage to join the groups without Fiona’s encouragement.
One of the main outcomes for the first year of Heart of the Community was to record the communities’ little acts of kindness. We have pledge cards that we ask community members to fill out telling us about something they have done or are going to do to help others in their neighbourhoods. From the small act like telling a neighbour when the bins go out to Volunteering for local community groups, it all counts.
We have found the Roadshows to be a good engagement tool to get people talking and thinking about the positive things that are happening locally. Our experience has been that generally people don’t think about the small things they do for others and the positive impact it has.
When out on our Roadshows we always said that we would hold an event to celebrate the small acts of kindness in the community and give back to those who are supporting their community. We held the volunteer’s celebration event on the 8th of December and invited all the people who had engaged with the heart of the community project. For the event we had created a slideshow of pledge cards to show examples of all of the different acts of kindness had people do every day. We also created a display board on the wall of the hall for everyone to have a look at.
The event saw 25 people attend the event. We provided a buffet and refreshments for our volunteers and had Christmas songs playing to get everyone into the Christmas spirit and have a sing along.
We drew a raffle on the day with 2 winners. The first was a £50 voucher of their choice for those who had left us a contact detail on a pledge card and a £20 voucher of their choice for anyone attending on the day. Additionally, Rotherfed’s Volunteers for friendship calls held a prize draw for a huge Christmas hamper filled essential food supplies and a few treats.
Winners of raffles on the day were Thomas, Rhea B and Donna (Friendship Calls Hamper prize)
The event was well received by the volunteers
“it’s been lovely today; I’ve really enjoyed it”
“I think it’s a nice gesture”
December saw a handful of events take place within our communities seeing residents and partners coming together to festive events to get into the Christmas spirit. Our communities had 56 residents total attend a Christmas tree decorating, Christmas coffee mornings and residents Christmas Celebration.
The first event was the Oates Close Community centre Christmas Tree decoration event. Heart of the Community supported RMBC with this event to decorate a Christmas tree that has been planted outside of the Oates close community centre. The tree will grow bigger and bigger each year and will hopefully become a great feature of the estate for future Christmas events to come. Residents came together to write their own messages on baubles and decorated them with glitter and pens. We then decorated the tree with all the baubles that had messages on for the community at the end of the event. Hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows, mince pies and other hot drinks were available for everyone taking part which went down a treat. We asked the children what they absolutely loved decorating the baubles, colouring them in and using the glue and glitter to make the colourful.
Continue reading “Heart of the Community Christmas Events”
The firework display took place on Saturday 5 November, and this was a fantastic event with over 2500 attending. As well as the spectacular firework display, there were children’s rides, catering stalls and a disco. Everyone who attended said how much they had enjoyed it and how good the fireworks were. Over £1000 was raised on the evening through a raffle, donations from the children’s rides and the fireworks. This money will go towards 2023’s display which has already been booked for Saturday 4 November.
Josef attended the Energy Know How Clifton Learning Partnership drop-in session. Lynn enquired whether the client had received his £66 government prepayment meter voucher from his energy provider. The client confirmed that he had tried to cash it in at the post office however his name was spelt incorrect on his voucher and the post office would not redeem the voucher. The client did not speak good English and got frustrated on the phone trying to speak to people. The client had his electricity bill and Lynn offered to contact British Gas to try and help him sort it out. British Gas were happy to speak to her with the clients consent and she managed to log the client’s problem with them. She arranged a further telephone appointment with the client and British Gas requesting an interpreter to help with communication. She also informed verbally and in writing what the client would need to have to hand when British Gas called. The client was very happy with the assistance offered and relieved that this issue would be resolved to enable him to cash his vouchers. The client thanked Lynn for the help offered.
Following the Energy Know How presentation to a group of senior citizens at Whiston parish hall, Stanley asked if they could help him. He has his energy supplied by Scottish Power and in April 2022 they increased his direct debit to £380 which he managed to pay but it was a struggle – he knew this was far too much and tried to get them to reduce it but several times they said they had worked it out on his previous usage.
Eventually they agreed to lower his payment to £232.00 which he is still paying and from Oct-Mar will get the £66 refund due to the government £400 grant to households – he is, however in credit by £790.00 following his latest bill which shows he is still paying more than he has used. On this basis his credit balance will continue to grow.
He has attempted on several occasions to contact Scottish Power as their website says he can have his credit balance back; however, they use automated chat bots which do not take him to where he wants to be, and he has not had any response to call back requests or emails. Sharon discussed with him the process of how he can make a formal complaint and gave him the email address for the CEO of Scottish Power – Kevin Anderson. They discussed what he needed to include, and she gave him guidance on how to draft his email considering he has had multiple customer service failures from them, and he should be due to a minimum of £90/£120 compensation. They also discussed ways to save energy including using a slow cooker and having radiator foils/led lightbulbs. With this in mind, he requested a green doctor visit. His wife is partially sighted, and both are in their 80’s.
He was very appreciative of the help and advice he was given and will make the complaint to Scottish Power.
The residents of Bevan Crescent community group have created community activities for over a decade. The group have a communal garden that is well maintained, they have held many fundraising events for the group and other causes including clothing and food donations to charity. It is fair to say that the residents of Bevan are very community focused and have successful kept the group running. Unfortunately, the longest serving committee member announced they were stepping down after 10 years of volunteering. Although the community were shocked at first having an experience committee member stepdown from a leading role. However, the residents have now stepped up to take leading roles.
The group reached out to its members and wider community for support in creating a new committee. RotherFed attended a session during a coffee morning with the group, the members talked about roles and responsibilities that committee members would have to take on. It was decided they would like to continue to run the activities the previous committee ran. After members had taken on the responsibility of running the sessions and settled into their positions, the group have now signed a constitution and are officially a constituted committee and are in the process of opening a bank account with a view of applying for funding.
The future looks bright for Bevan Crescent, after losing a valuable member of their committee they have rallied community member who are ready to take the group to the next level.
Maggie has been receiving the befriending calls since May 2022. Her husband passed away in 2018. Even though she does have children, she has said since her husband passed away, she hasn’t had someone to talk to about ‘normal everyday things’ which she really missed. During Lockdown her mental health really suffered as she wasn’t able to see her family much.
Recently Maggie has had lots of health issues which has resulted in her being in hospital on numerous occasions. She has also found out that her eldest brother, who she’s always been ‘thick as thieves with’, has terminal cancer that has spread to most of his body. All of this stress has led to a decline in Maggie’s mental health.
She has spoken to the same volunteer since she started the calls and has developed a close bond with her volunteer. Maggie said that her volunteer always pulls her out of her ‘funk’ and they end up in giggles whenever they talk.
Maggie said talking with her volunteer helps her to forget ‘how bad things can be’ even if it’s just for half an hour, she said she felt like the conversations flow so easily as they have very similar interests and outlooks on life. They have covered every topic imaginable. Maggie loves the fact the volunteer is sometimes somewhat blunt (in the nicest possible way!) saying “yes everything is bad at the moment, but things can’t get any worse, can they?” and “you need to put on your big girl knickers and get on with it don’t you, if you don’t do it no one else will”. Now her mental health is a lot better than it was, her overall health has stabilised a bit now and she is enjoying spending time with her brother making as many memories as possible, they are planning on a having the whole family take a cruise over the Christmas period. In Maggie’s own words “never underestimate the difference the calls make, sometimes it’s the one consistent in my life and it means the world to me”.