Henley Community Group

By Vicky Hilton, Community Organiser

Henley Community Group (Henley TARA) are a group of local residents who come together on a weekly basis to plan and deliver activities within their area. They identify local issues and needs by talking to residents and engaging them in activities such as weekly bingo, youth clubs, trips and further support for the community.

Many of the groups members are seen as ‘pillars’ within their community and support other residents living within the Henley area for over 15 years. The majority of the group are over 60 years of age.

The project will support the group’s priority of bringing communities together by enabling the group to help local residents who suffer from poor health, often disguised as loneliness and isolation. The TARA want to ensure a good quality of life for local residents, especially in this case for the elderly residents. They want to give local residents a chance to feel healthier and happier about where they live and the opportunities they can take as a community.

With high levels of deprivation, particularly around the Henley area, elderly residents cannot often afford or do not have a supportive network and family which enables them to get away on holidays and day trips out of the borough. We want to guarantee that there are fun things to do for people of all ages as its often the elderly residents that get overlooked.

When planning I hope that by giving this disparate community a chance to come together and help build a stronger and more cohesive community it will have an effect on the sustainability of the group. The idea of a trip will bring volunteers and leaders out, who then naturally take a lead role within their community. By ‘doing with’ we hope to achieve a better outcome, not just for individuals but for the wider community. We encourage people to get involved in their neighbourhoods and help each other, which in turn can lead to community action and stronger communities, drawing in on existing strengths and tapping into the skills and knowledge of individuals and the community as a whole.

Henley TAR are working with the community to organise a trip in which local residents visit a local seaside town. This will be a community decision with a workshop to consult with local people as to where they would like to visit and how it is to be organised. Already the group have met with me to share and speak about their ideas as a group and identify the support needed. I have helped the group to further consult and to make sure other local residents voices are heard when planning the project.

The project addresses many different priorities which benefit local people. By working closely with Henley TARA we have ensured the project addresses and identifies further need within the community ensuring that it is community led.

We have planned a day trip, out of the borough, predominantly with residents who are 50+ who work hard all year to ensure the young people and families get away.

As volunteers they also organise community seasonal activities such as Easter events and Father Christmas for the wider community. We have booked a 45 seater coach which will ensure many of the elderly residents can attend.

Working together I have supported the group to apply for CLF (community leadership fund) in which they have been successful in receiving £375 in which the group will use on a community trip to Mapplethorpe before the end of the year.