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Getting the most out of scarce resources – the benefit of creative partnerships in Southwark

Being resourceful is very familiar to community micro-enterprises. When funding is tight community micro-enterprises work creatively and almost instinctively to deliver health and well-being initiatives for their local communities. They are naturally collaborative and work in partnership with their peers and other local agencies and businesses.

Linking with residents associations

Lindsay from community enterprise Re-energise approached me about four months ago with an idea for a mobile service offering complementary therapies in people’s homes. This service has particular appeal to people who find it difficult to get out.

‘Kam has provided regular support and training opportunities relevant to my business. This has been done with sensitivity and an understanding which has helped to build trust and allowed me the space to develop my ideas. It has really helped to have someone there who sees the bigger picture and is able to interpret your goals from a more objective position’.                                       Lindsay Gill, Re-energise

Lindsay recently met a friend at a local event who is involved in a tenants association. Lindsay told her friend about Re-energise and the work they do and this led to the friend putting in an application on behalf of the residents association to fund six months of weekly complementary therapies for residents from Re-energise. This is due to start next month.

Complementary therapies have a useful contribution to make to well-being including help to address sleeplessness and to reduce stress so it’s great that these are soon to be made accessible to local residents.

Creative Crafts

I have also been supporting Betty from Creative Crafts, helping her take an idea of reducing the isolation of local people through creative crafts and make it happen.

‘I’ve had been put in touch with so many useful connections by Kam. She has sent me really helpful training opportunities and resources, helped me problem solve and encouraged and supported me to continue in my venture!’                                                          Betty, Creative Crafts

Creative Crafts is now providing a number of opportunities for vulnerable isolated people in the local community, enabling them to engage in enjoyable activities which are proving to be very attractive.

KamOne of these opportunities is based on strong links Creative Crafts have forged with Notting Hill Housing Trust and their tenants association. Their Creative Crafts Boutique (CCB) offers therapeutic and empowering creative crafts sessions to people in the local community in partnership with a range of professionals and other organisations. One primary benefit of the partnership with Notting Hill Housing Trust was that CCB were able to secure a free venue from Creation Trust from which to run their classes with residents from the Aylesbury Estate. CCB also developed a relationship with the Creative Therapies Project at the Copleston Centre and are now teaching jewellery making, machine embroidery and knitting. They are also negotiating with another day centre to do something similar in Nunhead.

‘There are many people who have health and social care needs who are creative. For example our jewellery making tutor in her previous career worked in the IT industry, she was unable to continue to work when she was diagnosed with cancer and is now disabled. She taught herself how to make jewellery which was very therapeutic for her while she was recovering from cancer. She is a talented and very creative jewellery artist who is now using her jewellery making skills to help others’.                                                             Betty, Creative Crafts

SE1 Avondale and Tesco

Christina is an inspiring community enterprise leader who has recently established two clubs one of which is based in the local Tesco. The history of one of the clubs is interesting. The club was running at a local church but faced a huge rent increase of 300%. Facing homelessness, group members approached the Community Champion at the local Tesco supermarket for help. Inspired by their story Tesco offered free use of their training suite to the tea club. The newly independent club is now in its third week in its new home and Tesco has provided free premises, cakes, tea and decorations as well as a ‘well-being chat’ from their in house pharmacist.  I attended one of the tea clubs and it was lovely with much talk and laughter.

As the ‘community catalyst’ in Southwark I really enjoy working with community micro-enterprises like these, supporting them to grow, make connections and turn their ideas into real opportunities for older and disabled people.

Kam Dhenjan
Community Catalyst in Southwark

Posted in: Southwark Community enterprise project

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