Walking Grant funding: Covid 19 success stories #3 The Fed
This is the third in a series of blogs looking at how voluntary and community organisations helped with funding from GM Walking Grants, have adapted to help their community during Covid 19.
The Fed had been successful in applying for a grant from GM Walking Grants scheme. Having suspended their many face-to-face support groups because of COVID, the Bury-based charity has focussed on offering phone support for its clients in the community.
From March to August, the organisation’s Community Advice and Support Team (CAST) received more than 1700 phone calls to their advice line, with almost 11,000 hours of telephone support offered by their Volunteers Services Department from April to June.
Here’s GM Walks Q&A with The Fed
Context / overview of what you do:
The Federation of Jewish Services has been providing advice, support, and care services for people of all ages living in the Jewish community in Greater Manchester since 1867.
We run a range of services including weekly mental health support groups, carers support groups, volunteer befriending, a weekly community café, twice weekly groups for children with additional needs, and social work support, – as well as residential and nursing care, including specialist dementia and end-of-life-care – in our care home at Heathlands Village.
In 2016 we received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
As the realities of COVID hit home, The Fed experienced a 58% jump in calls to our community helpline between February and March 2020. The broad and ever-adapting nature of our support services means that currently one in every eight Jewish homes in Greater Manchester have benefited from our support. That includes a staggering 10,750 hours of phone support provided by our volunteers from April to June.
Why did you apply for the grant and what are you wanting to achieve with this approach?
We run several highly effective support groups as part of our community services provision. These include a twice-weekly mental health support group where members meet and enjoy a hot meal together; a monthly mental health group lunch; a community cafe group (which is open to the whole community – not just the Jewish community;) days out and communal events.
For some, these regular meet-ups represent the only human contact they have – without which they would be completely isolated. The importance of these groups cannot be overstated.
We provide social work support, a telephone helpline and one-to-one welfare support to anyone experiencing mental health issues. The maintenance of an individual’s mental health and well-being is at the heart of our community services and developing our plans for mental health support both now and in the future is one of our key objectives.
Due to the current restrictions, we are unable to run face-to-face support groups, however our members are still in urgent need of support and the opportunity to come together. The regular and familiar sessions that we run are crucial to our clients’ wellbeing, and many members have struggled to cope on their own. When we mentioned the idea of socially-distanced walks during some of our regular telephone conversations, they were very positive about the prospect of finally being able to come together once again.
Who did you hope to engage with?
The walking groups – known as our ‘Walk & Talk Group’ – support anyone wishing to join including people living with a range of mental health conditions, as well as carers, people living with dementia; indeed anyone finding themselves lonely or isolated in some way.
How the approach has been adapted?
Our usual operations allow us to run weekly and monthly mental health support groups, along with day trips, meals out together assistance with shopping and other important jobs. Due to COVID, we have suspended all of our face to face support groups for the time being and are focusing on providing telephone support, help with shopping as well as of course our two weekly walking groups which take place every Wednesday morning and afternoon.
Any examples of how it’s working so far?
The group began on 12th August and immediately elicited some very positive feedback. “It is SO exciting to see everyone again!” exclaimed one client.
The walks have taken place at Heaton Park in Prestwich, with six people in each group, and participants have loved the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and familiar company. One lady in particular, who has been without face-to-face support for a number of months – and who regularly comes to our mental health support groups – was overjoyed to see her friends again.
Feedback from participants has been brilliant:
“lovely to get out and see people”
“missed the weds purple café so its lovely to get out and be with people”
“really appreciate you organising this”
“looking forward to joining you “
“thanks for organising”
“so nice to finally see your faces”
Where can we find more information, and your contact details?