As this community site has grown, I've noticed members from around the country have begun to share information about an array of excellent projects they have either been involved in or benefited from.
I've read about how Jan has been getting her hands dirty setting up a community garden with help from a range of community partners including the Community Initiatives Fund and local police, while George told us all about Silver Comedy - a social enterprise project offering interactive comedy workshops especially for older people.
It's made me wonder how many other community resources there may be near us that we either aren't aware of or just don't think to engage with.
Just this weekend, Marion shared news of plans to roll out the Doncaster 50plus Roadshow to extend the reach of the advice and networking opportunities to older people throughout the whole town - it made me wonder - is there a 50plus organisation near me? Or, near YOU?
Personally, I have quite recently moved from London to Yorkshire and really miss my local library. It was revamped around 2003 and free internet access and a lovely cafe made it somewhere I enjoyed visiting, but what made it extra special were the community projects it also helped take off. I'd often see craft or charity groups meet up there and discuss their latest projects, the lobby would display artworks created and the noticeboard was always full of information about how to join in. I don't think there is anything to rival it where I live now...but perhaps I just haven't looked in the right places yet!
I'm starting this discussion to encourage us all to share news of community events and resources we use or find, afterall they deserve the praise!
So, what's going on near you?
THE GROVE ROAD COMMUNITY GARDENING PROJECT
I spend a lot of time thinking about how older people, disabled people and other particulary challenged members of society need a new approach, and I've found one: it's called the 'asset approach', and basically focuses on the STRENGTHS, SKILLS, TALENTS, ABILITIES, WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT etc. people gain - particulary through suffering and experience.
Here's a useful link: http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/11/06/2010/114697/An-asset-...
This has so clarified my own thinking about my rapid cycling bipolar! Disability and impairment are two rather negative words, and though they often too accurately describe the way we're treated by others who think they're 'whole' and 'not disabled', they do not help. When you look at the community you're trying to serve, don't look at the negatives: DO A SKILLS AUDIT!!!
That's how we started in our Community Gardening Project here on the 50+ assisted living council estate where I live. We looked at our garden and its POTENTIAL, and we looked at ourselves and our ASSETS. Try it! It's a) very encouraging and b) will help you with strategic planning - and therefore also with fundraising. What are your strengths, your passions? What could you achieve together? How would your achievements have a positive impact on the wider community (and I don't just mean local)?
What I love about my estate, and the Gardening Project, is that it brings out all the positives in people - at least, most people (there will always be the grumblers and detractors!) We come down to the garden and grab a trowel and a packet of seeds, and before long people are offering to help with cups of tea, or sitting on a bench chatting about their latest troubles and getting support and advice. We've lost a lot of local support bodies (funding cuts) and so need each other more and more.
We have 'Bring and Share' suppers at our parties in the communal lounge. People come (as I know from what they tell me) to get a decent supper, as well as to mingle. Times are hard. And now we're planting vegetables so we can have home-made soup and a roll at least a couple of times a week in winter. People will be able to get warm in the lounge as well as getting something to eat. I'm seeing some real neighbourliness emerging, and my goodness, it's needed!
I live in Charlton Down, a 20C purpose made village in the grounds of Herrison Hospital that was made into luxury flats after it was closed in the '60s. The village has a Londis convenience shop, a gym and health spa in the old chapel, a village hall in the old ballroom, a cricket field and pavilion and an occasional bus service. There is a Womens Institute, a bridge club, over 50's exercises, various book clubs, table tennis, a walking group and Artsreach events. The Anglican church in the next village of Charminster is well attended, and there are house groups in our village. Messy church is also held in the village hall. There is an annual fete held in the grounds of a large house in Charminster, and the W.I. arranges a variety of outings for its members. There is a community orchard with all kinds of fruit trees, some allotments and a wild life pond.
I am at present part of a heritage embroidery group making a community tapestry to celebrate the Jurassic Coast. It will be hung in the Corn Exchange this month. Dorchester Stitchers meet on the first Monday in the month at the United Church hall in Dorchester and is open to members of the public to join in our commissioned projects. I am also part of a Baptist Church group that lunches every month in a cafe or pub and then visits an interesting location or has a talk by an invited speaker (usually one of us!). The retirement apartments where I live also has a vigorous RA who arrange coffee mornings, buffet dinners and various outings.We have a gardening club that looks after our newly created community garden, and a skittles group.
As a disabled person, I rely a lot on friends to give me lifts for appointments. Just recently the bus company decided they could no longer run a service in this area. It has been taken up with our member of parliament and there are ongoing negotiations with the Council. Having an affordable car pool may be an advantage.
How lovely! Your post aroused memories long-forgotten... I know Charminster, and in fact went with an estate agent in 1981 to view a big house next to the churchyard (it had a huge and very beautiful attic room and lots of character, but I was heavily pregnant at the time, so we went for something that didn't need work, which this house did). We lived in Preston, nr. Weymouth. It's wonderful to hear of other projects - makes me feel connected to a network of friends...
how nice...I lived in a 200 year old cottage in North Street for about 14 years. It cuddled me, but had to leave it after I had my stroke and now live in a modern apartment block overlooking parkland and Herrison House.
I came to Dorset from New Zealand where we immigrated in 1960, to help look after my daughter's children. They had a cottage on East Hill, Charminster. The kids are all grown up now of course and my daughter has remarried and presently in Piddletrenthide. My 2 sons and families still live Down Under where they were born but I try to visit as often as I can. My eldest son lives in Christchurch, NZ and is visiting here in June.
There's no shortage of activities in Cambridge. I couldn't possibly list them all! I have choir practice on Friday's, CB1 Poetry once a month, with a poetry workshop the previous day. I start a 12 week art course soon, and visit the Fitzwilliam Museum sometimes. At least 30 mins walk every day, plus upper body exercises that would make my old cardiac rehab instructor's eyes water.
There is an excellent Age UK based in a community centre within walking distance of here, and I have been, and got to know the person who runs it. But there aren't any activities I'm interested in, so I continue to do my own thing. The others in this scheme are mostly friendly, but I avoid anything like a coffee morning because of one neighbour who is abusive regarding my disability.
It looks as though we will be getting a community transport service going, pending funds. I'm not involved in organising this, but I'll certainly be a user.
Actually I enjoy my own company and always have a lot to occupy my time... writing on the laptop takes it to a new level! I used to have my own studio in NZ but now have a limited area in which to paint. However it is quite fun to enhance digital photography on the computer. I make myself be sociable in house, in order to support the people providing the service. However as you say Richard, the community activities do not appeal to me either, apart from Artsreach. It is sad that someone feels the need to be abusive Richard, I guess they feel threatened by not being able to respond in a positive way.
D'you know, Angela, I hadn't thought of it quite like that (the abusive person). It's a complicated issue, but I do believe you have a point there. Thanks.
looking at the activities that are available locally, and the fact that I'm not interested in most of them, has led me to wonder ... I have never really enjoyed card games and find the waiting about for someone to make a move incredibly tedious! My Mum loved Whist drives and Bridge, and dragged me along to them. I always got the booby prize! Line Dancing leaves me cold, although at school and in my youth I enjoyed country dancing, and later on did musical comedy and ballroom dancing. I liked swimming and diving and at age 10 was being coached for Olympic diving... but I cant even get into a pool now!!!!! The various voluntary activities being offered at church, like handing out cream Easter Eggs in town with an invitation to come to our Easter show is appealing, but how will I get into town? There is a parade in town on Good Friday... I can't walk very far and anyway its at a snail's pace so a walking group is also out of the question. I like reading but my choice of book is not the same as other people's. At present I am reading The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown by Charles R Morris...
The History Club and W.I. both coincided with other appointments, as did Messy church that I did contribute towards in the past. Anyway I reckon I've done my dash now..
Talking about the reaction of others to disability, so far I have found young and old incredibly helpful and concerned when I am out in my scooter. Offers of assistance are not always followed up but the thought is there.
Which brings me to wondering what kinds of activities might be suitable for elderly disabled people apart from sing-alongs and sedentary exercises...?
My other half is Social Secretary here, and is the one with the ideas. Most of our neighbours fall into the category you describe. This Saturday, we're having a campaigning workshop (how to defend your rights), a bring and share buffet, an Easter bonnet parade, and a filmshow of 'Easter Bonnet' with Judy Garland. Sometimes we have karaoke. We also play bingo (which sounds boring, but not when the older ladies start to talk and crack jokes!) and ninepins - you can get a piece of piping so the person can sit and roll the ball down the pipe onto the alley. We're applying for some 'social inclusion' funding so we can have tai chi (which can be done sitting down too), a disability support group, arts and crafts, writing - and more indoor/balcony gardening workshops. People can sit down and pot up seeds... The minister of the local Anglican church is coming along tomorrow afternoon to do us an Easter blessing service... When our garden starts to yield veg and herbs, we're planning 'cook and eat' lunches, making our own soup, and a cookery demo from the local college students and their tutor. Is any of this useful? I hope there's something there for you...
all of that sounds really creative and I could see myself joining in a lot being offered. Not into bingo myself but many people enjoy it!
Why is it that there are still such unpleasant, ignorant people everywhere? I think it's because they try to raise their own low self-esteem by putting others down. They are little people - little in the mind and little in the heart. We have 3 such people here. However, because we've done so much for people, in spite of the meanness, accusations and calumny, those 3 are now isolated and it's become very obvious to everyone who is worth their friendship. If you have the resilience, I would say, don't let the blighter win! Certainly if he/she is robbing you of something pleasurable and therapeutic.
Because I tend to over-react to negativity and 'bitchiness', I tend to prepare and rehearse short put-downs for such people and have them ready, because I'm not naturally good at the timely one-liner! I try to anticipate what the 3 grumblers might say, and have my answer ready. I don't know if that will help you... I think, if that person were in front of me, making a mean remark, I'd probably say something like, 'If you took the trouble to get to know me, you might find I'm a useful person to know - but it looks like you can't be bothered. I'm off for my coffee'. Then you simply turn your back on the person. I have to be careful not to return bitchiness for bitchiness - it seems that's what these people want - to entertain themselves by having a shouting match with someone - so the quiet, dignified put-down is best, I find. And nobody can criticize you for it.
Anyway, you've probably tried that approach and failed. Such people are often irredeemable...
Best wishes, Jan
the trouble is, the person concerned was quite close to me at one time, and has worked out which button to press. I'm no pushover, having taken on many bullies, and institutions in the past: Standard Life, Kelloggs (a copyright issue), three NHS Trusts, a college of higher ed., British Gas, and won all of these battles.
But one person in a small community, overwhelming others with the strength of her personality, can gradually manipulate herself into a position of being the biggest fish in a tiny pond. My answer has been to get out and swim in a much bigger pond, and apply for a transfer to a different scheme. "The Blighter" is not winning.