As a charity, profits from Prama’s services and shops are put towards some great community initiatives. One such initiative is that of our Community Development Workers – innovative, caring and hardworking people we employ for one or two years to work in the community, usually based in and/or working with a church.
The aim of the Development Worker is to develop activities that bring the community together and encourage volunteers to take on ‘ownership’ of each activity beyond the term of the role. This ensures that the activities continue and relationships develop.
Peter Southcombe, Minister at Immanuel Church in Southbourne, tells us about the great work undertaken by Sally Nevitt in her role as a Development Worker based at Immanuel.
"Sally has enabled the church to develop new ministries and to be 'church in the community'. Without Sally the church could not have developed this ministry which has borne fruit in the various initiatives and been life changing, and dare I say it 'life-saving', for many people.
A range of activities are now run both on and off site supporting older people and providing practical help with life. There’s the Computer Club which is very popular amongst our ‘silver surfers’ and the drop-in coffee morning and lunch. We have just launched an Art Therapy Group for people with dementia and piloted a community cinema - these all offer a great opportunity to meet others and develop lasting friendships.
Spiritual needs are also met in the mid-week communion service, Bible studies, and ‘Songs of Praise’ style services in local care homes.
We have seen both users and volunteers benefit from the programmes available. One computer club user has gone from having no knowledge at all to passing on hints and tips to new attendees. We have seen friendships built between isolated people who are now organising their own activities and volunteers really grow in confidence and happy to take on new initiatives themselves.
Some quotes from some who have benefitted from the activities:
“I can keep up to date with my family much better now I can use my IPad.” Computer Club
“Wednesday is the best day of the week.” Wednesdays@Immanuel
“I look forward to the services and really enjoy them.” Care Home Resident
Ultimately, having a Development Worker based in our church and working in our community has been a real life transforming opportunity that has enhanced the church and community life.”
The experience at Corfe Mullen has been very similar: Andy Binnington, Project Lead, says “the project gave us the time and manpower to stop just doing church and really be church - reaching out in love to the community around us, to the elderly, the disadvantaged and the marginalised to see what we could do to help them enjoy life more.”
The Development Worker here also set up a number of initiatives. Andy continues: “He was instrumental in setting up and/or helping with four toddler groups each week, spending time with parents/grandparents and chatting over tea and biscuits.
Then there’s the C.O.P.D. exercise group for sufferers who meet, exercise, socialise and share their experiences.
He provided links with Bournemouth & Poole College’s special needs education group in support of the volunteering element of their syllabus; facilitated the use of our building for the Downs Syndrome support charity for sufferer and carer support groups and another charity caring for youngsters with life-limiting illnesses. He formed a link with Wimborne Food Bank to become the first active referrer in Corfe Mullen; involved the church with the dementia support initiative in the village and launched the Corfe Mullen Good Neighbour Scheme (part of East Dorset Good Neighbours, incorporating Wimborne, Ferndown and West Parley).”
Andy says there was more and pretty much all of the schemes and activities continued once the Development Worker post in Corfe Mullen ended.