Hammersmith reflections

A blog written by our Trustees - this time Sam Deards

I joined Hammersmith United Charities as a trustee back in 2014 and since then have seen the charity grow and I have got to know intimately what the charity does and aims to do in the future.

I grew up and went to school in Hammersmith and have always loved the area for its rich history and diversity. I didn’t know anything about the Charity before I was recommended by a friend to meet with Melanie and Tim, but have been very encouraged by the work it does in trying to help the less well off and connecting people from all backgrounds to increase greater community cohesion and neighbourliness.

I sit on the housing committee and have become chair of the grants committee, as well as attending board meetings. I have sat on the admissions panel for a couple of sets of admissions to the sheltered housing and have learned a lot and been moved by the life stories of people that we met and the decisions that had to be made. It also gave me a greater understanding of the social housing landscape and needs in Hammersmith.

As chair of the grants committee, I have seen how grants are so important to enable really worthwhile activities and help in the local community. Some of the issues that we have tried to tackle include isolation, mental health, anti tribalism, integration and community cohesion.

Some events I particularly have enjoyed are the “Enigma” and art discussion lunches that have pulled various people from the local community, together with residents of Sycamore and JB house to discuss art and poetry and what it means to them. It was great to see people chatting and discussing things that they wouldn’t normally discuss and with people that they probably wouldn’t come in to contact with on a day to day basis, but live side by side. Another was the film screening at the Lyric theatre last year. There was an impressive array of contributions from hugely diverse organisations and individuals. To me it succinctly expressed so many ideas and illustrated so many things about the local area from different viewpoints.

I also sit on the board of the Wormholt and White City Big Local Board (Hammersmith United Charities match funds). This gives a greater insight into this particular area and the challenges faced from this diverse community. A particular highlight has been to see the community chest expand and succeed and a great festival last summer with a great array of stalls, food, music and celebration.

Finally, on a slightly separate note, I am also a trustee for the Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Festival which has been going since 2014 and has really grown and expanded in the local area. This year we have got funding from the Arts Council  England, together with funds from Hammersmith United Charities and the local council to put on “JOY” a celebration of disability in the borough and will also form part of the 400 year celebration for the Charity. It is wonderful to be involved in this and bringing together different organisations and people, to give a greater voice and freedom to people living with disabilities.

 

Sam Deards

Goodbye to Tim

We said Goodbye to our CEO Tim Hughes on the 8th November. We marked his transition into a life of unpaid work with a Tea Party.
(more…)

Read More ...

Hammersmith Reflections – Why we need art

Guest blog entry by Nora Laraki

 

Most of you know me as the Administrator of Hammersmith United Charities, the first point of contact when walking through our doors in Sycamore Gardens. But since 2017 I have also dedicated my time to do a PhD and dive with this research project deeper into the art world. (more…)

Read More ...

Hammersmith Reflections – Solutions for an Ageing Society

Guest blog by Geoff Hands, business mentor

“Solutions for an Ageing Society” is part of Hammersmith United Charities’ programme of Social Enterprise Grants. Under the direction of Melanie Nock, HUC’s Head of Community and Partnership, it provides funds to launch new business ideas created by budding local entrepreneurs to enhance the quality of life of older residents in the Borough.

As well as offering grants, Hammersmith United Charities also provides a Business Mentor to help each entrepreneur work up a business plan and to support the successful launch of each new business. Coming from a background of law and business, I have had the good fortune to be that Mentor since the programme started in the summer of 2017.

The entrepreneurs are inspiring people, sharing a common characteristic – a fervent and infectious passion for their cause. All except one of them have been women; some young, most of them of a mature age, all of them coming from a variety of ethnicities reflecting the great diversity of cultures to be found in the Borough.

Their business ideas have been just as diverse, but they have mostly shared the common themes of combatting loneliness and enhancing community cohesion. One entrprenuer’s aspiration was to be an Energy Specialist for the Indoor Environment, bringing her career skills in energy efficiency and sustainability to enhancing the indoor environment of residential homes and day centres for older people. Another woman has been working closely with her daughter to establish an elderly persons’ care-at-home business embodying the cultural mores of her community particularly the love of older people and respect for their wisdom and experience.

Cooking and creative arts are well known antidotes to loneliness and insecurity. One very talented young grantee’s solution for an ageing society was “to lift people out of loneliness using food to create a community that meets regularly to talk about health, diet and cooking”. It was her belief “that inspiring people to cook for friends and family is a way to regain self-confidence and that giving the lunch participants new recipes and ideas to try at home will hopefully be an incentive for them to host more social gatherings on their own”.

A Solutions for an Ageing Society grant has been supporting another extremely gifted award winner in successfully testing her business idea in the local community – in sheltered housing, churches and community halls. Her scheme is to run “hands-on professional fun and creative Art &Crafts workshops with a focus on Textile Art and Felt Making for the elderly, in a safe and supporting environment” expressly with a view to “to fighting isolation, improving health and well- being and making friends by stimulating the senses and challenging minds to learn new hands-on skills”. She and I are currently working together on ways to take her idea to a new level and to grow it into a fully-fledged sustainable social enterprise.

These grants also extend to seed-corn funding an award winner intent on breaking down the taboos that prevent men from certain cultures talking about – and doing something about – the incidence of prostate cancer.

A Social Enterprise Grant from the charity is supporting a new organisation whose mission is the relief of domestic violence in the Borough particularly against immigrant women not able to speak English in isolation imposed by their violent partners. It teaches these victims that domestic violence is not an accepted norm in society, finds them a sanctuary and embraces them in a community of women with shared experiences but now assertive and independent in their own chosen milieu.

And a final “hurrah” for the one man in the scheme – a Life Coach seeking to establish a sustainable business providing a programme of Personal Development Workshops for elderly people. He hopes to introduce a pioneering ingredient – “cross generational mentoring” to integrate different generations working together and supporting each other in motivational life skills.

It is a privilege to work with these compassionate and dedicated people. One of the entrepreneurs wrote recently: “I must tell you that the time I spent with you and Melanie really did restore my self-confidence which had been knocked after almost a year of unemployment. I will be forever grateful for the confidence and belief HUC gave to me during that dark time.” An unexpected accolade for Hammersmith United Charities from an unexpected, unintended but nonetheless very welcome beneficiary.

Hammersmith United Charities has funded this programme in partnership with Unltd and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Geoffrey Hand
October 2018

Read More ...

January Grants deadline

Apply for a grant by 7th January!

The next deadline to send your grant application will be the 7th January.

Find our application form and entry requirements here.

Contact Melanie Nock if you would like to talk to us about your idea or your application.

We look forward to receiving your application!

Read More ...