Active Plus Communities One Year On
Almost a year after its launch in Falmouth, Active Plus Communities is starting up in neighbouring Penryn on 4th May 2016. In that year the project has helped 147 people aged from 50 to 92 across 6 communities across Cornwall to build confidence, connections and community spirit. 75% have health problems or disabilities and 54% live alone.
Delivered by military veterans from Active Plus, the Big Lottery funded project tackles loneliness and isolation amongst older people and supports them to become a resource in their community, helping themselves, each other and the wider community. It also enables more military veterans with physical injuries or mental ill-health to join Active Plus as volunteers and build their own confidence, self-esteem and prospects of employment, whether that is with Active Plus or elsewhere
Managing Director Tim Cocks said: “Active Plus Communities is all about people helping themselves through helping others. There is a real mutual respect between the military veterans who deliver the project and the people who attend. The experience in the room is incredible and it isn’t long before strangers become friends, confidence grows and anything becomes possible.”
In addition to problem solving and team-building tasks, the project brings in service providers to connect people with the support and services available and give older people a voice in how they are delivered. It also helps people to stay safe through sessions on fire safety, home and on-line safety, crime prevention, first aid and CPR. After a structured programme running over 6 weeks, groups continue to meet weekly with a military veteran mentor for up to 12 months and are supported to develop their own next steps, whether that is creating a group that is open to others, fundraising for charities or local causes, volunteering or developing community events and projects.
Military veteran Paul Hope is part of the Active Plus Communities delivery team and mentors groups in St.Austell and Bude. Paul had a successful career in the Navy and served on the Sir Galahad in the Falkland conflict. On leaving, he worked as a manager with a number of large organisations including Orange. After a drawn out illness Paul started having flashbacks and was diagnosed with PTSD. Paul isolated himself from everyone, including his family, and started drinking heavily. After several years without employment, Paul was referred to Active Plus through the NHS and started as a volunteer in 2011. Since then he has not only been employed by Active Plus but has started his own business delivering First Aid training.
Paul said: “It is great to see the friendship and community spirit that develops through Active Plus Communities. The group in St. Austell have raised over £800 for charities and recently went to visit Little Harbour Children’s Hospice to find out how they could best support it. The Bude group only met at the end of February but are already involved in a photography project to promote everything that is great about their community. The benefits are enormous – for them, for me, for my colleagues, and for the community”
The Penryn group starts on 4th May and will run every Wednesday from 1-3.30pm at the Highway Community Centre. Anyone wanting to find out more can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01326 567174