Following an email received from the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle under Lyme, Safer Communities were offered an opportunity for themselves and those associated with them including the Princes Trust, community room users, volunteers, Staffordshire Youth Commission and staff to attend an engaging, interactive fun workshop.
This was as a direct result after The New Vic received from the Home Office’s Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) funding for a project called RESIST (Resisting Extremist Sentiments Innovating Solutions Together) as a community based project, they are exploring what extremism means to each individual attending their workshops using interactive workshops they explored where communities believe extremism stems from and ways in which ordinary people become susceptible to these views, whilst still seeing themselves as upstanding citizens. Ultimately highlighting to communities enabling them to identify any issues and working together to find solutions.
These workshops will also then help to shape a piece of documentary theatre that will tour locally using the opinions of local people who participated, this is something ‘all’ will be welcome to come and watch free of charge.
Please take the time to read a short statement from Alec Voss, the Princes Trust Team Leader, about his experience with Stafford Team 15:
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we were arriving to take part in the session at the New Vic. I had a feeling that there may be some sort of drama involved (with it being in conjunction with a theatre company), which I personally was both enthusiastic about but also a bit wary. We had some very shy team members with us that day and I was mildly concerned that any theatrical/role play elements may go down like a lead balloon. I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised both at the approach the delivery the staff took as we were eased into proceedings with a very detailed and informative tour of the inner workings of the theatre space, including backstage and their different creative departments. I found this very interesting and so did the students as it showed the personal passions that the delivery staff had and made them more relatable.
It turned out that there were elements of drama, but it was introduced very skilfully and all members of the team seemed happy to take part and created some brilliant depictions of hidden identity through the clever use of tableaux. I was very impressed as, not only did the students get the message, but that message was delivered in a highly impactful and meaningful way.
A particular highlight for me was the button sorting exercise. In brief, the team was split into two groups and each given a huge pile of assorted buttons and trinkets, they were then asked to sort them into various categories (colour, size etc.) of their choosing. Then the groups had to assign each category an identity(something based in society or their community- so healthcare staff, the elderly, war veterans etc.) and then were asked to remove one category all together. So, basically, eliminate one sub category of society from existence. The levels of debate and moral quandary that were whipped up within the group’s discussions was amazing to behold. I will almost certainly be using this exercise myself on our programme as it is brilliant, so very powerful.
What I found really impressive overall was the subtlety with which ideas were introduced and discussed. The idea of identity and prejudice can be and is a very sensitive subject and the RESIST guys handled it beautifully leaving everyone, myself included, with a lot of food for thought. And it was loads of fun to boot! I would highly recommend them and would certainly work with them again.
Benefiting our communities Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Support Staffordshire - Stafford and District community room facilities throughout Staffordshire ❤️ https://www.supportstaffordshire.org.uk/news/community-fire-stations
MS Craft Group have met weekly on a Wednesday afternoon at Rising Brook Community Fire Station for a number of years now.
Having originally started following Millennium Funding, that enabled them to pay for the hire of community rooms across various local churches. However, once that funding ran out, the group were then stuck without anywhere to meet. Fortunately around this time the Community Fire Stations became available, allowing this group to continue.
For a number of years now to present day this MS Craft group have continued to enjoy meeting on a weekly basis at Rising Brook Community Fire Station.
The group consists of a wide range of ages with varying degrees of physical abilities, they participate in a variety of crafts including painting to cross stitch; as well as continuing to make handmade cards that support the MS Society, thus raising money for the MS Society. Although there are no performance measures in place for the group, they will critique each others work in a friendly and supportive environment.
The group spokesperson said that "The community fire station has brought added value by having provided a local venue, easily accessible for everyone with the added bonus that the group have received a fire safety in the home talk. By having the use of the Community Room facilities, it has enabled us to continue to support each other; the room has become a social hub for all the group members.” Adding that by being on a local bus route it allows our members to easily attend. Another additional bonus is that the room is always set up “This is fantastic has previously the group leaders had to set the room up with tables and chairs this had become very difficult to manage.”
“An opportunity to escape from 4 walls in the house”
Stone Community Fire Station hosts a U3A Art-Drawing group who meet weekly on Thursday afternoons, this group is a mixture of retired men and women who joined through the U3A scheme.
The art groups purpose is to offer a chance to learn new skills in a relaxed, friendly environment. There is a group leader, Diane who organises that each member brings their own projects to work on using different mediums, everything from water colours to pencils. The group is made up of ten members as they couldn’t accommodate more members due to the size of the room and the capacity to spread out with their art work. It is a very popular group, already having six people on the waiting list to join.
The group stated that their purpose is to meet, relax and share skills and knowledge, adding that by having the community rooms that provide light and airy rooms, this helps when creating pieces of art work, whilst also allowing them to spread out and work on their art pieces. The kitchen facilities are very good allowing them to have coffee and cake breaks. Some of the feedback received about this facility:
“Good central venue with great facilities”
“Having a car park, as well as a lift to access the room has meant I can join this group. Without these facilities I couldn’t have joined after having suffered a stroke without having this easy access to the room”
“Friendly staff on station”
“Great light and airy room”
Stone Community Fire Station hosts both morning and afternoon groups of U3A Patchwork and Embroidery
The morning group meet every Wednesday 10.00am – 1.00pm and have benefited from these facilities for approximately 3 years. The group consists of a mixture of retired, part-time and self employed people. There is also a carer and the person they care for, attending the group.
All the group members do a variety of patchwork, embroidery or sewing, with each working on individual pieces. Organised themed days also take place, where the group make Easter Bonnets or Christmas Decorations for example. The groups aim is to bring back the knowledge of sewing, crochet, patchwork and embroidery, alongside socialising and supporting one another. The sharing of knowledge has built confidence; enabling them to encourage each other whilst at the time allows them to discuss all sorts of issues, from politics to support for one another.
Some group members are also passing on this knowledge to their children and grand children, encouraging them to learn and develop the art of patchwork and embroidery.
The Community Fire Station facilities has enabled the group to meet, prior to this the group did not exist. It is important to mention that some group members live on their own and without this sewing group, they would not be able to socialise in other ways. Therefore, this opportunity also alleviates loneliness. Quoting “Lovely bright room with access to kitchen facilities” “People on station are always friendly and helpful”
The Creative Machine Embroidery afternoon group meets fortnightly on Wednesday’s 1.30pm – 4.30pm and have been using the community room facilities for approximately 12 months. The group are U3A members who are either retired or semi-retired. They meet to work on either individual embroidery work or occasionally project work.
The group members have differing levels of experience and knowledge, sharing new skills and techniques for the rest of the group to try out such as fabric based, mixed media free motion embroidery. It is also a social group enabling group members to chat and discuss various topics or issues.
The group doesn’t measure performance; this is purely to share ideas and new skills.
This group previously used Walton Community Centre however as numbers began to dwindle within the group they had to seek an alternative venue. Now by having access to our local Community Fire Station facilities this has ensured that the group can continue. Stating about the rooms:
“Good light for any hand work”
“Lovely facilities and feel very lucky to be able to access these for free”
Penkridge Craft Group meet weekly on Thursdays 10.00am – 3.00pm, they have been using the community fire station facilities since September 2017. This group is made up of a mixture of ages, with various disabilities. Some have dementia, whilst others have suffered strokes or other physical disabilities.
The group originally met at a pottery class at the college, however when the college classes ceased they decided to get together themselves and continue with various crafts or board games.
The main purpose for the group is to allow them the opportunity to socially interact and support one another. An example of this is when one member had suffered a stroke and was unable to speak or use their hands. Through the pottery group, it enabled them to strengthen their hands and their speech has also returned. This group does not have any performance measures in place to monitor their progression, they use this opportunity to interact and support one another socially.
By having the use of these Community Facilities, it has enabled the group to support one another and encourage independence. They benefit by using the kitchen area to microwave meals, which has enabled group members to remain independent. Some quotes from members:
“This is a lifeline for me as I have felt isolated at home in the past”
“We are a tight-nit group who support each other and share any problems and concerns we may have”
“Its great to be able to all sit around one big table and chat about things”
This group is all about supporting people who feel lonely, maybe after the bereavement of a relative or friend, or perhaps after a period of illness which may have made going out or talking to people tricky. The volunteers who run the sessions explore individual’s interests and connects them to community-based groups within the area. There are also crafts on hand for people to try, including LEGO, mindful colouring, board games and glass painting.
Advice and Guidance
This session is free for anyone to join and provides an understanding of coping strategies to help members to deal with stressful situations. IE Anxiety management, positive thinking, mindfulness. External organisations are invited to come in and do a talk on specific topics that the group identify as an issue or subject of interest. The objective of the group is to encourage members to talk about the things that they need help with in a safe, non- judgemental environment. “By reducing worry we reduce stress and anxiety and by giving members the opportunity to face things head on will equip them with the knowhow of how to solve problems, should one arise in their life”.
The Staffordshire Recovery Hub is a community based service that supports people in their journey towards mental health recovery.
This is ran by four organisations (Making Space, Wiseability, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation and Mental Health Matters) who all believe that everyone has the right to personalised care and support that fits their individual needs and choices. The Recovery Hub use Rugeley, Cannock and Codsall & Bilbrook Community Fire Station’s several times every week. John Thompson who leads the sessions says they find the facilities refreshing, clean and enjoy easy access through the Trusted Partners Scheme. He says the space “enables group members to meet and interact with each other – for some people this is the only time they will meet and socialise outside of the home.”
STOKE-ON-TRENT CITY COUNCIL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TEAM - JUNE 2019
- Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Safer Places scheme is open to anyone with a learning disability or vulnerable condition
- Members include people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, autism, dementia and mental health issues
- The team is actively recruiting new members and membership is increasing by on average 15 people per month, and is adding new organisations regularly (on the Safer Places National Network website we have the 3rd highest number of Safer Places of all areas – and we are competing with some large cities)
- Funding from Safer Communities CIC has enabled us to join the National Safer Places Network and offer our members free download of their GIS map
Here are some of Jeremy’s comments:
- The team have delivered workshops with Safer Places members in Day Services and community venues to show how to download and use the app
- The majority of members have a mobile ‘phone and have found the map to be a very useful resource
- The spoken directions given to access each venue is also extremely helpful as some are unable to read
- Jeremy has been a member of the scheme since it started in 2011, and we asked him to tell us how he felt about being part of the scheme and using the app
- Jeremy had downloaded the Safer Places app as soon as it was available, and uses it all the time when he plans a route, so he knows where the nearest Safer Places are
‘Although I do go out on my own, I feel much better about knowing I can go to a Safer Place if I need to, and the app has made it easier for me to find my nearest ones wherever I am
It makes it easier for me to find them because it is on a map, it is harder for me to understand when it is just an address written down
When I am going somewhere, I look at the map and find out where the nearest Safer Places are
I have been to some new places recently, in areas I haven’t travelled to before, and when I do that I always check the map for Safer Places
I always take my ‘phone with me when I go out, so I have always got the map with me, instead of having to remember to take a list’
Safer Places Outreach Team
- The Safer Places Outreach Team also use the app on a regular basis, for their own personal use when out in the community, and also for the valuable work they do quality checking Safer Places, making sure they have displayed stickers, have the relevant paperwork and whether staff need further training
- Overall membership of the National Safer Places Network and the downloadable app has been extremely beneficial for our scheme and members. As Jeremy said, everyone takes their ‘phone when they go out and having the map to download is much more convenient and accessible than lists. Some of our members prefer a visual representation of the location of venues and the app provides that.
- The outcome for members of the scheme who are all vulnerable members of the community has been positive and this has encouraged more people to join. We are grateful and appreciative for the opportunity provided by the funding from Safer Communities CIC.