This week on our social media platforms we are showcasing #OurCommunityServices and all the efforts they have put in over the past year to keep their communities connected. 

All week on our social media accounts we'll be sharing stories, demonstrating the impact of our services and hearing from our staff across the Recovery Focus group of charities. 

Lockdown restrictions have made this past year a challenging one, and we are proud of how our Community Services have rallied to the challenge to keep our communities connected and supported. Their hard work has meant that we have been able to tackle social isolation as a collective. We are looking forward to demonstrating the work services have put in and how they have managed to continue delivering effective and impactful support amidst Covid-19 restrictions. 

Below is a brief insight into what services are up to and what’s to come this week. 

Evolve Café 

Evolve is our Aquarius social enterprise café in Birmingham. Evolve offers employment and training opportunities to young people in the local community. Due to lockdown restrictions Evolve Café has had to remain temporarily closed but is looking forward to opening again once it is safe to do so. However, this hasn’t stopped the Evolve team from supporting their local community.  

Evolve and Aquarius Cares teamed up with some invaluable volunteers to deliver meal kits to young people in Birmingham. We are looking forward to sharing more about this later in the week so stay tuned on our social media platforms for our news item to come on the Aquarius news page! 

Wiltshire Recovery & Social Inclusion 

Wiltshire Recovery and Social Inclusion (RSI) offers support to those in the community feeling isolated. There work and support helps individuals to access opportunities that allow them to engage more in their communities and in their own mental health recovery. 

Wiltshire RSI have been working extremely hard to keep their community connected. Later in the week Richmond Fellowship will be sharing a news item looking even further into what Wiltshire RSI have been up to. We will hear from people we support who have experienced these services and the impact it has had on their lives, as well as from staffwho will offer us an insight into what it’s like to work in Community ServicesStay tuned on our social media to find out when its live!  

Art Matters - part of East Surrey Community Connections 

Art Matters is a community arts studio aiming to connect communities and provide creative pathways to mental health recovery. Art Matters works directly with East Surrey Community Connections offering a person-centred and supportive environment, where people are encouraged to explore their creativity, and develop new skills and confidence. 

Whilst the Art Matters studio had to temporarily close due to the pandemic, this did not stop the Art Matters Community from staying connected. A huge way that Art Matters has kept connected is through their newsletter. The newsletters started off as a way of keeping connected but also by offering welfare advice and government guidance on Covid-19. The newsletter has since evolved in the third lockdown to a hub of creativity that demonstrates as a community, they can still be creative together.

The Art Matters team arranged calls to 100 people they support every fortnight to check in and see how people were coping with lockdownArt Matters artists shared their situations and what they found useful in maintaining their wellbeing and this ‘peer support’ was shared to the wider group through newsletters. Lockdown was difficult for everyone, Art Matters artists were looking out for each other and wanted to help.  

Art Matters started the Sketchbook Project – all Service User Artists were sent sketchbooks. Art Matters found that they could continue to work together – in isolation – and maintain a sense of community and engagement. Art Matter managed to send out over 200 sketchbooks to people we support! 

Staying connected is what it’s all about, we managed to keep a sense of community, belonging and engagement during the lockdowns. Mark, Art Matters Studio Manager 

Check out Art Matters Instagram here. 

We’ve heard a little about what some of our Community Services are up to and will continue to share even more throughout the week, but what is it like to work in our Community Services?  

James, Suffolk Service Manager gave us an insight:  

I manage a variety of support services in the community across Suffolk and have for the past 7 years. This is part of my overall role as well as managing supported housing services.  

No one day is the same as the other. One day you may be supporting someone with their house chores, completing benefit forms, or going for a coffee. The next day, you may well be supporting someone who is in crisis or experiencing relationship issues. We all experience the same challenges day to day, and we welcome the opportunity to meet these challenges that life delivers us effectively.  

Our colleagues may well be the only person someone we support has contact with due to their difficultiesa lot of trust and confidence is placed in them as a result. The onset of COVID-19 has seen the same challenges for people we support as anyone else, for example, anxieties around catching COVID and ensuring they get enough food and medicine. It, however, has brought some positives for people who have found the lockdown rules something they have appreciated.  

The service has worked with people individually to work on plans of support and safety and for some this has seen less face-to-face support and a change in delivery. However, where it is needed, face to face support has continued in a safe manner, using personal protective equipment. COVID-19 has taught us that people’s support needs carry on regardless of a pandemic and that it is about making use of other resources and partnerships to meet someone’s needs. In Suffolk we are now looking at a plan to accommodate the easing of restrictionsso watch this space. 

We are proud at Recovery Focus, that our group of charities have been able to support people across the country throughout different cause areas with the joint ethos of recovery. The internal strength of the group remains strong, and this only shows our ability to inspire recovery for more individuals. 

This is just the beginning of Community Services Week! Make sure you keep up to date with the week by following #OurCommunityServices and the social media accounts across the group. We have lots of content to share, including a video from our award-winning Old Moat Community Garden Centre, and a Radio Sparky episode with Richmond Fellowship Community Services. 

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