Mindfulness and Health & Wellbeing

By Rachel Cole, Projects Officer

The last 11 months have been very different and difficult for many people and for different reasons. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness. To try and help Thurcroft investigated doing something to help towards mindfulness and health & wellbeing.

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Jo Workman

By Rob Gooding, Community Organiser

Rob nominated Jo for the volunteer of the month award in Wickersley Ward in December 2020.

This is a project run by RMBC staff and local councillors Jo is has run the local SEND youth club for children with additional needs for the last two years and was looking to expand this to other areas of Rotherham until Covid struck.

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Rotherham Federation Covid-19 Response

RotherFed have been part of the overall community support programme targeting those most in need in our communities, initially through the Rotherham Heroes campaign and Community Hub, but also through providing support to our network of TARA’s and community groups. Our CEO has been involved in the multi-agency response and the Rotherham Tactical Group that work together to respond to community needs. As part of our involvement in the Rotherham Heroes campaign, we took a lead role in helping to shape and organise Friendship Calls to the most isolated and lonely people across the borough, culminating in the creation of a Befriending Providers Network that is Chaired by our CEO and meet monthly to improve outcomes for local people who are lonely and isolated.

Read our full Covid Response below:

Sheila From Swinton Crafty Ladies

Shelia has been involved with Rotherham Federation for many years now and although I have heard Shelia mentioned in passing until recently, I have not had any direct contact with her.  Since moving to the North of the Borough at the end of October 2020 I have spoken to Shelia on many occasions and have now got to know her much better.

Shelia is a very active member and volunteer who is part of both Swinton Community Focus group and Crafty Ladies. She does a great deal for others despite sometimes suffering with her own health. Shelia has just re-engaged with the Housing Involvement Panel meetings and has expressed an interest in becoming involved in the Housing Hubs and with coffee mornings.

During the summer months of lockdown Shelia started chair aerobics outside in the street for people to join in with her, this was very successful, and everyone enjoyed it.  Shelia is now working with Active Dearne to deliver the chair aerobics online. RMBC are running a piece on wellness in the next edition of Home Matters and Shelia will feature in this.

Swinton Community Focus Group ran a Christmas Give A Gift for the underprivileged children in the area and not only were they overwhelmed by gifts, they also received over £1000 in donations. As all this money wasn’t used, they will now do a Easter egg hunt at Easter and purchase Easter eggs with the leftover money to give out as prizes.

Shelia also has weekly contact with other members of both groups where they do crafts/play games etc online, making sure everyone is well and keeping in touch with each other where possible.

I am looking forward to working more closely with Shelia and getting involved in her area, especially when the lockdown has eased more.

Friendship Call Participant – Jack

Jack was referred to the service in November, he was a little unsure about engaging with the service. He is partially sighted and lives on his own. Jack has lived a colourful life working down the pit for 35 years before living in Cyprus for many years. A cheeky chap that would suit a local volunteer as he enjoys talking about local monuments etc.

Jack was allocated to one of our new volunteers Gill, following the first call we received feedback from Gill who was over the moon and asked if she could contact Jack again. I spoke with Jack who was equally enthusiastic about speaking again with Gill, he said “an hour passed in a blink of the eye and the dreaded Covid was not mentioned once, which was a blessing, was nice to just talk to someone normally” he added, “the conversation just flowed as we moved from topic to topic.” Jack may have been sceptical, but he is certainly enjoying the calls now.

Friendship Call Participant – Charlotte

Charlotte is a young 24 year old council tenant referred from Roundabout. Charlotte lives on her own and suffers with mental health and drug abuse. After my initial call to Charlotte, she seemed reluctant to talk or engage. I got her to start talking about animals and Africa and this enthralled her. She started to open up to me and an hour later we had built a good rapport. I promised that I would ring her a week later, which I did. She was eagerly anticipating my call and we had a great chat again. At the end of the call she informed me that it was so nice to be able to speak to someone who does not judge her or wants to offer advice. She openly discusses her thoughts with me. She has told me that she is so happy that she can receive these calls as she feels totally isolated and alone.

I received a text from her thanking me and that she is really looking forward to receiving another call on Monday. Because of her drug abuse and mental health, she will remain with me.

Friendship Call Volunteer – Jepsy

Jepsy speaks in broken English as she is Spanish. She joined back in October 2020. She has a young family so does up to 3 calls a week. Jepsy has grown in confidence and has no problems communicating with the participants. Her English is improving all the time and she is really enjoying the conversations. She has one participant who she calls weekly and two others which she alternates. “Was able to speak with MW, she was very happy and we were talking about her daughter’s profession, and she also told me about the coronavirus vaccine, Mrs. MW has an amazing memory, because she remembers many things, when I told her she laughed a lot.”

Jepsy continues to call participants and even with the added pressure of home schooling, she is still keeping consistent with a few calls and looks forward to increasing when things return to some degree of normality.

Friendship Call Participant and Volunteer

By Jane Owen, Volunteer Coordinator

This volunteer started her volunteering with us back in the first lockdown. She had a very traumatic experience in her life and this still impacts on her daily life. She was allocated a lady to call who has severe mental health issues, schizophrenia and severe depression. After the first call of the week, the volunteer found out that this lady was very much on a down with her depression. Because of this the volunteer rang her every day just to enquire how she was. It was only after the fact that the volunteer called me to inform that she had kept in touch with this lady during the week. Because of the volunteers past and the calls made to the participant the volunteer found her own past intruding on her again and called me. As I had recently completed the mental first aid course, and because of my background I was able to offer the volunteer the support needed and followed up with a phone call to the participant who was so grateful that she had someone to talk too outside of her professional support.

The following day I received a lovely email from the volunteer;

‘Hi Jane

Thank you for your much appreciated support yesterday. I hope you too have someone you can turn to if you ever need to.’