Local Social CIC
Forging bridges between communities by helping people to connect with each other
Local Social CIC was set up by Andy, as well as James and Karin who both have learning disabilities. Their aim with Local Social is to bring people together, intentionally building on the assets of people and places, to form friendships and mutually supportive connections. They do this by setting up ‘coffee mornings’ in Ware, Hertfordshire. They currently run five each week in a housing association hall, a library, a pub, a Building Society, and an Arts Centre, with an average of 80 – 100 people attending across the week. Pre-Covid Local Social ran one weekly session on a Friday for around 10 – 12 people. Post-Covid there is a growing interest for more ‘coffee mornings’ so more people can make social connections.
Making an impact
Andy shares some of the impact he’s seen while running Local Social:
“Harry was introduced to Local Social by a Social Prescriber when they both came along to a coffee morning six months ago. Harry had had a marriage break up after many years, had attempted suicide, been hospitalised, and was under GP direct supervision.
Harry tells us that until recently he would go to the supermarket several times a day to be with people to get a smile and some contact. When volunteering in a local town he chooses to go on the bus for the company, rather than drive.
Harry has been coming to Local Social meet-ups twice a week for about two months and has said that ‘when you are on your own it makes a great difference to know that you are able to get out, meet people and most of all talk’.
Harry met people at Local Social from the bowls club and they introduced him to the club – he now plays regularly, has learnt new skills, met new people, and has a new strand socially. He has also met up with a neighbour’s group, via Local Social.
Harry has now begun to take a more active role in Local Social, inviting others to join, supporting people himself and has been totally in ‘charge’ of a recent Local Social session.
Harry acknowledges he has a ‘long way to go’ but is ‘a thousand times better than he was’.”
“Wendy lives alone and has family who live a long way away and she doesn’t see them very often. She goes to a nearby town, on the bus, to have lunch at the same café every day. She used to meet friends there, but they have either died or are not able to get out now. Wendy has some medical issues that make life quite difficult.
Local Social contacted Wendy and invited her to come along to our pub venue which was very close to where she lived. Before she had never been in the pub and didn’t feel confident to go anywhere socially other than the café.
Wendy has now been coming to two Local Socials a week for the past year and says that she likes ‘meeting people, they are very friendly, and I enjoy the homemade cake and a nice cup of tea’.
Wendy is now able to ask her neighbours, who attend Local Social, to help her out. Recently they have read her meter which was too high for her to see, changed the battery in her smoke alarm and fitted a new door chain. Before she would have had to get the Housing Association to do these things and it would have taken a long time and there would have been a charge. Local Social have also helped her when her bank card was lost in the post and supported her to get her COVID booster vaccinations.”
Connecting real lives and support from Community Catalysts
Find out more about Local Social and the support they’ve received from Community Catalysts:
The Community Catalysts continues to provide support to Local Social. Recently, the local Community Catalyst supported Andy whilst he has been participating in the Community Catalysts’ New Social Leaders Leadership Programme which is enabling him to build collaborative connections, share learning and grow as a result of a series of structured workshops and brokered connections.
The Community Catalyst has also supported Andy to identify new opportunities, local partnerships, potential funding streams, as well as potential venue solutions, in a bid to extend the reach of their Local Social ‘coffee mornings’.