This past year has been a busy and productive one for the Community Development Team. Throughout 2021, we worked to support communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with our enormously successful holiday hunger scheme, the Bags Of Hope campaign, and our Festive Challenges programme. Now, with the successful national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and the lifting of lockdown restrictions in February, we have been able to expand our face-to-face engagement with community groups and business partners. Our newly constituted Team found themselves with the task of reinvigorating engagement with communities through a variety of new projects and numerous Team Challenges. The Community Development Team have hit the ground running and built up a momentum that will undoubtedly carry them to further successes throughout the year.
I would just like to say how amazing the play building now looks thanks to the wonderful staff of Joules and their hard work on a sweltering day. The children and their families absolutely love the new vibrant colours and design. On behalf of all the staff, committee, volunteers and especially the children of Woodgate Adventure Playground, I’d like to say a huge thank you to team Joules and of course Neetu and the whole Leicestershire Cares team.Stuart Elliott, CEO of Woodgate Adventure Playground
- Holiday hunger scheme – 9,500 pack lunches were delivered to 4,750 families with business members volunteering 192 hours.
- Trip to Skegness – 5 different community groups. 275 people attended, including 33 different nationalities.
- #BagsOfHope campaign: 1241 bags distributed to 57 different community groups. 5 non-members and 22 business members took part. 8 hours volunteering time from 2 businesses supporting deliveries.
- 13 Festive Challenges completed with a total of 311 hours of volunteering given from business members
- The Eggstravaganza Campaign saw 10 business members help deliver 1165 eggs to 31 community groups.
- Making Moves project has supported 28 young people at 3 community groups, plus 9 participants on a one-to-one basis, in finding accommodation. 2 participants have been moved successfully into permanent accommodation.
- The Power to Change project has brought 6 attendees at basketball training sessions to full accreditation in Multi Sports Coaching and First Aid. This has enabled them to set up their own basketball training sessions for over 50 young people.
- The Power to Change project has also seen barbering training sessions at the Freedom Youth Club, supporting asylum seekers and refugee young people in developing new skills, improving employability and self-image, and creating a welcoming social environment.
- Community Development Team have completed 4 Team Challenges with 4 different community groups and businesses
- Hosted the "Art 4 Mental Health" workshop programme with mental health charity Jamila's Legacy
- Set up stalls at 2 networking events – Your Space and Lives not Knives
- Delivered 6 diversity and inclusion webinar events delivered to Leicestershire Cares team
- Cultural diversity video completed with Joules.
- Delivered 5 skill-sharing webinars on social media and marketing delivered to 45 stakeholders
- County Lines modern slavery training delivered to 29 individuals attending from 10 community stakeholders.
- COVID-19 vaccine mythbusting podcasts completed in 4 different languages, with 281 total downloads
We all thoroughly enjoyed the Team Challenge at Wesley Hall Community Centre. It was very rewarding to see the transformation of the garden from start to finish and a great opportunity to give something back to the local community and the volunteers and staff at Wesley Hall, who do such great work in and around the local area. We’re already planning the next Team Challenge to re-decorate the main hall!Jack Ramus, Staff member at Walkers Deli & Sausage Co.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are facing a significant back-log of work since returning to the office after the easing of lockdown restrictions. This has limited the time they have available for them to volunteer. As a result, we have had to rearrange multiple Team Challenges to significantly later dates than initially planned, which in turn compounds problems with coordinating with community groups.
- Sponsorship from businesses – e.g. providing uniform, equipment, starter packs with home essentials for young people moving into accommodation, etc.
- Collaborating with businesses on work tours, work experience, interview skills, mentoring opportunities, career talks, CV workshops, etc.
- Business members could pop along or get involved in the sessions and see what work is being delivered and what ideas they have from a business perspective to further develop and support the projects
We just wanted to say a big thank you for the Easter Eggs that were donated to St Andrews Play Association for the Easter holidays. We did a big Easter egg hunt, where we hid pegs and the children collected them to exchange for an egg. They had great fun and we gave out over 75 eggs to the children. the older ones helped marshall the egg hunt as volunteers. Thank you once again for your kind donations.Lisa Palmer, Play Leader at St Andrews Play Association
- Enhance impact and sustainability of projects established with community groups
- Business engagement and rapport building, to be creative on how they can continue engaging in new ideas.
- To set up a community steering group and a business members steering group
- Look at how to utilise our business members to engage in more grass root community involvement.
- Reach out and develop more relationships within the county.
- Scope opportunities for Leicestershire Cares Projects to do more outreach work.
- Team Challenges are now in motion, so monitor and to ensure a smooth transition
- For the Community Development Team to create mini projects – city and county
In June, the Community Development Team visited the Wesley Hall Community Centre in Leicester City for a Team Challenge. Wesley Hall is a community group that provides a range of services to support residents from the local area and across Leicester City, including early years services to help families with young children, classes for adults and young people, and mental health support services. A team of volunteers from Walkers Deli & Sausage Co. donated their time and energy to restore the Community Centre’s outdoor garden area, preparing a range of new garden beds including a vegetable patch, a flower bed with a couple of fresh saplings, plus a range of hanging baskets. The volunteers also repainted the Community Centre’s outer wall. Altogether, their work created a picturesque space where attendees of Wesley Hall can now engage in activities in the fresh open air. The space will be particularly beneficial for attendees of Wesley Hall’s mental health services, who can now get their support in an attractive, calming environment.
Since the start of May this year, the Community Development Team’s Youth and Community Development Officer Lee Hawthorne, in partnership with the Somali Community Parents Association (SOCOPA) in St. Matthews, has been providing six young people with basketball coaching.At the end of May, the six attendees at the “SOCOPA Sports & Activities Group” successfully gained full accreditation in Multi Sports Coaching and first aid. This has enabled them to set up their own basketball training sessions on Saturdays, which roughly 50 more young people from the local community are expected to attend.The SOCOPA Sports & Activities Group is testament to our view at Leicestershire Cares that bringing people with similar experiences together is a transformational experience that gives them a chance to develop and build relationships, networks and connections, and reflect on the community to which they belong.
In April and May this year, the Community Development Team hosted a six-week “Art 4 Mental Wellbeing” course run by local mental health charity Jamila’s Legacy, with the aim of creating a space where attendees can use painting and crafts for therapeutic purposes, free of charge. Attendees have found the painting and crafts workshops to be a hugely valuable experience that enables them to boost their confidence and take pride in accomplishing new things. Art 4 Mental Wellbeing also provides attendees with a safe space to share their feelings and experiences, offering a sense of connection and recognition.