News

  Winter  2016

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Thank you to all our supporters – we wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas

steampunkWE would like say a huge thank you to all the people who have supported us with their donations this year.

As ever we appreciate the continuing support of White Stuff who have donated more than £4,000 to us this year through in-store events and given us a huge amount of their time and energy.

We would like to thank Exeter Cathedral for their donation of £1,000 and Exeter Philharmonic Choir who gave us the chance to benefit from their retiring fund with a collection at their two Christmas Carol Concerts in Exeter Cathedral which raised over £2,750.

Thanks to all the Steampunks at the their annual Yule Ball who also shelled out for us (pictured above with, left, Jola Pawlikowska, our volunteer coordinator). We would also like to thank all our supporters, many of whom help us with their time, through volunteering as well as their donations.

Ripple re-launches with new action plan

RIPPLE Effect project has re-launched with a new team and a new mission to help combat social isolation. Lee Chivers and Tracy Wilson (assisted by Mardle the dog) will be running short-term community projects ranging from gardening to film-making to setting up a community gym.

“At the moment there is nothing between long term unemployment and mainstream volunteering,” says Lee. “This will help bridge that gap.”newripple2

A former volunteer with Ripple Effect, Lee has made the step into paid work but says he appreciates how joining a group might be daunting for someone who has become isolated for physical or mental health reasons.

“The more isolated you are, you almost get to a stage where you forget how to communicate with people.” He recalls how he went through a period of his life where even the prospect of talking on the telephone could prove a challenge for him:“If I had to go out to the shop I would leave it till the last minute, till it was nearly closing and I knew it would be empty,”

The money for Ripple Effect has come from Devon County Council’s Community Impact Support Scheme (CISS) and the Office of Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner. The team plan to get involved in a number of social action projects, the focus of which will be decided by the project’s participants.

“It’s not prescriptive, the ideas will come from them,” adds Tracy. “It’s about empowering them to start a project that’s important to them.”

For the last three years, Tracy, who is partially sighted, has been working in an eye clinic offering support to people coming to terms with sight loss.

“It’s definitely a situation where people can become quite isolated. It’s not easy to adapt to change. I have been through bouts of depression so I can empathise with how people can get very down about it.”

Tracy and Lee realise that for some people, simply turning up to a meeting will be a huge challenge. “It’s all about celebrating the successes, however short they are,” says Tracy.

For more on Ripple Effect contact Tracy Wilson at tracy.wilson@eci.org.uk and Lee Chivers at lee.chivers@eci.org.uk or on 07516 161827/831.

Meet our new chief executive

StevensmallIF YOU had met the young Steven Chown, working 12-hour shifts in a Leicester factory loading trays of bread into scorching ovens, it’s unlikely you could have predicted his future as chief executive of Exeter Community Initiatives.

Yet as a white university graduate in a heavily unionised work place employing a lot of newly arrived Ugandan Asians, he saw how people were treated differently according to their class or their colour.

“I witnessed inequality and discrimination first hand.  I saw that there was one rule for some and different rules for others,” he says.  It was a shock for a young man who had grown up in the close community of St. Thomas, in Exeter.

Steven went on to become one of the youngest shop stewards the factory had ever had.  But an idea began to crystallise: “The do-it-yourself ethic appealed to me.”

Taking inspiration from the women at Greenham Common, he returned to Devon and began to volunteer. He got involved with a play scheme run by Gingerbread, a charity for single parents, and from that became fascinated by the inspirational power of play.

“After the play scheme I got a job on the Orchard Adventure Playground in Beacon Heath. Initially it appealed to my practical sense of building structures and lighting fires – I love being outdoors,” he adds. “But what I loved about it was that everybody was equal.  Everybody, whatever their age or background, had something to contribute.”

Working on children’s play spaces has taken him around the country but he returned to Devon to work as programme manager for the Children’s Society in Torbay.

Most recently he was the programme manager for Play England working on projects up and down the country. He was involved in setting up Playwork Principles, a set of professional values for those involved in play work. He also worked with the Play Safety Forum who advise on managing risk in play provision.

So does he does he worry that we are wrapping our children up in cotton wool?

“I think it’s really important that they are given the opportunities to do risky things in a safe way, you have to have confidence in people to find their own solutions,” he says.

Despite having lived and worked in many cities, Steven admits he is always drawn back to Devon.  He is a keen Exeter City supporter and has just taken up walking football (a low impact football to minimise injuries).“Exeter has a particular energy that I really like, a diversity, socially and culturally that I think is good.”

It was partly that strong sense of community in the city that attracted Steven to the ECI job: “I like the idea of people being involved in something that meets a person’s needs but also gives them the opportunity to meet the needs of others.

“I think people want to make a contribution to their community and I think people are looking for ways to do that.” Steven says what he values about the work of ECI is that it is a charity which cares about much more than simply asking people for money.

“I like the philosophy of giving what you have. I suppose you could call it philanthropy. You can give someone a cup of soup on a cold day, but if you are involving them in making the soup and sharing it with others it gives you a sense of self-worth.

“Philanthropy is about establishing a relationship with people.  People give what they have and receive what they need.

Award for mental health champion

winnersueSUE Bulled, ECI’s energetic community organiser has won an award for her work with people facing mental health challenges.

She started the Together Lets Communicate (TLC) group in Wonford almost three years ago and has seen members blossom.

“When I started it was just a safe space for people in mental health recovery to go. Now their door is open for members of the public to come in,” she said. “It has been terrific to see them getting accepted into their community.”

Sue was presented with the Wellbeing Award by the Devon Partnership Trust.  She was selected out of a long list of 119 nominees, which was later whittled down to just 12.

“It’s just acknowledgement that you have done some great work and it really means a lot to me. This is serious stuff,” she said.

In a supporting document provided by her nominators, the TLC group, they said:  Sue is an ambassador for the community initiatives and people. She is kind, considerate, empathic and LOUD, but lovely.”

Sue has also been involved with Exwick Youth Council which was presented with the Young People’s Project Award.They produced a video, with the help of councillor Rob Hannaford and video company Freelance Productions, to raise awareness about the problems facing young people who experience bullying.

She was also involved with the Phoenix Suite Project which won the Community Friendly Together Award.

ECI pilots new project to support mothers

ECI’s FAMILY Resource project is piloting a pioneering new scheme which will offer social support, in addition to medical treatment, to mothers with multiple health concerns.

The Pilgrim Trust has provided a grant of just under £30,000 which will be used for a dedicated worker assigned to the scheme which runs until 2018.

Mark Myer, manager of the ECI project, said: “I think it’s accepted that in some cases medical treatment in isolation has not always achieved long-lasting change.

“This will be targeted at mothers who regularly present to surgery, people with acute needs related to stress and anxiety, perhaps associated with their lifestyle,” he added.

The support offered may be for a variety of things related to the parenting of children but it may also be associated with domestic violence.

“It’s quite timely as there is a lot of debate around social care at the moment,” he added. “The funders thought this was an innovative way of approaching these issues.”

The role of the worker will be to help improve the relationships within the family unit and assist them to contribute to their community.

The scheme is part of the wider umbrella project Wellbeing Exeter, a plan to improve health outcomes for people in the city through a variety of organisations working together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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