wellbeing navigators

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Wellbeing Navigators Comes to an End

As this chapter of working in Thames View and Barking Riverside closes and another begins I’ve been reflecting on our pilot, Wellbeing Navigators. The standout thing for me has been the relationships formed between all our participants and clients. There are so many different activities, groups and projects going on around here that once you open your eyes to them you start to see a different landscape: a network of residents striving to make their neighbourhood more connected, fun and greener. I have seen former wellbeing navigator volunteers and clients go on to work on the Henry programme, start cooking classes at the Participatory City Warehouse or leading campaigns to open up our local nature reserve. One thing leads to another as they say. 

During our pilot we have helped people retrain – learning skills in motivational interviewing, mental health awareness and social prescribing and to seek new opportunities for employment – coming out of the pandemic. It’s been heartening to have applicants call me to say that having been helped out of rough patches themselves they just want to give something back to their community having been locked away for 18 months of lockdown. This eagerness has allowed us to reconnect many isolated residents back with their community, get active and feeling healthier again. Just a few warm conversations can ignite a life changing transformation. One resident we were chatting to was unaware that our Barking Food Forest was literally on his doorstep, now he’s helping to run it! 

Over the course of walking groups, workshops, community events and 1-2-1s I have seen neighbours who have never met before, meet for the first time and form strong bonds of solidarity as they discuss the common challenges of bills, health, homes and overcoming loneliness in a busy city. It’s quite surprising sometimes how easily friendships can form. Despite the fact many of us spend most of our time looking at screens surrounded by four walls, once we are out and about talking to people we really are all the same: looking for a sense of connection and belonging within our community. 

Alex Anthony

Wellbeing Navigator Volunteer Coordinator

Wellbeing Navigators Receives £10K Funding

The Wellbeing Navigators Programme recently received £10k from LBBD’s connect fund to run events that combat social isolation in Thames Ward. Other groups given the funding include Company Drinks, Ultimate Counselling Services, Future Molds, Harmony House, and Rights Development Services. They will be using the fund to expand their existing services as well as putting on new exciting events: such as Company Drinks who will be creating a ‘queer (LGBTQ+) garden’, reminiscent garden (for the OAPs) and others. Harmony house will be using the funding to give their workers more quality time with each contact, getting them the person centred help they require. 

Wellbeing Navigators will be using the money to run new additional events that residents want: such as gardening, arts, sports and wellness groups. We chose these activities as a way to give residents a positive focus, to take our minds off our post lockdown worries and on to something positive and life affirming. To ground our thoughts back to our neighbourhood and the people in it – reconnecting us with our community. 

During these activities, residents will be able to chat to wellbeing navigators in a relaxed setting about further wellness options and services.

We are still offering residents an amazing free resident to resident, 1-2-1 support through warm conversations with motivational interviewing and signposting to other fun activities and helpful services.

For more information email Alex@twcp.org.uk

Joining up Wellbeing and Community Events

The pandemic has forced many of us to become isolated but as things have opened up the importance of meeting in-person has become even clearer and pertinent to our health and wellbeing.

The Wellbeing Navigator programme is a network of local volunteers based in the community who can help residents on their health and wellbeing journey. The volunteers support local residents through signposting and referrals to community activities and have recently partnered with community groups to engage residents.

The joint Wellbeing Navigators and Roding Rubbish litter picking event on January 30th 2022, was a great opportunity for local people to experience the health benefits of outdoor community work and socialising, tackling wellness in an exceedingly positive way. People met at the skatepark in Ripple Greenway. Steven Champion from Roding Rubbish made an announcement to sum up its purpose – that simply being outside and speaking to friendly people could be a simple cure for anxiety and low mood, reaffirming the need for us all to have a community group we belong to.  

As volunteers removed rubbish lodged in hedges with ‘grabbers’ next to others, they found themselves  socialising with each other. There were smiles all round. Local passers-by thanked volunteers for tidying up the neighbourhood as they were on their way to the shops or walking their dogs – leaving volunteers with a real sense of doing tangible good. The whole of Ripple Greenway was visibly cleaner after the session.

Thereafter, Steven and the Wellbeing Navigators led the group to Grounded Coffee at the Wilds. On the terrace, a community group true/false game was shared, and then a social prescribing mapping game to test peoples local geography of community groups and activities. People ended the afternoon discussing the variety of groups and activities in the local area, which was a successful outcome for the Navigators, leading more local people to groups that will benefit their health and wellbeing.

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