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

Hammersmith Reflections – Our retiring Chairman, Mike Smith, reflects on 12 years as a trustee

It’s become a tradition at Hammersmith United Charities that retiring trustees are invited to share their reflections on their time at the charity at their final board meeting. (more…)

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Grants Awarded May 2019

We are delighted to announce our new grantees for May 2019. We give grants to local organisations supporting local people and this year we have increased the total value of grants available to £400,000 to mark 400 years of supporting the people of Hammersmith. The next deadline for grant applications is 2 October 2019. If you’ve got a great idea then we’d love to hear from you at grants@hamunitedcharities.com

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We are looking for a Interim Head of Housing and Property!

Interim Head of Housing and Property

Salary: £40,000 – £45,000 (pro rata) depending on experience

Appointment Type: Fixed Term for 6 months

Hours: Part time, 30 hours per week

Start date: ASAP

About the role
We’re looking for an experienced Interim Head of Housing and Property to lead our Housing and Property Team. Responsibilities include overseeing the management of two sheltered housing schemes (Almshouses) containing 91 flats and a small investment property portfolio.  The team has an interesting and varied workload including promoting wellbeing, health and safety, welfare checks, emergency response, void management, safeguarding and property maintenance.

Please see job description here.

About you  
You will be managing our fantastic Housing and Property team and supporting them to deliver an excellent service to our residents.

The successful candidate for this role will be able to demonstrate a successful track record in a similar resident-focused role within a supported/sheltered housing environment for older people. You will have a good working knowledge of promoting independence and developing a lively and vibrant community, experience of ensuring regulatory requirements are met, and the skills to manage our properties. You will have excellent leadership skills with previous experience of managing teams and developing and delivering services to meet resident needs.

All candidates will be required to undertake a DBS Check.

How to Apply

Please complete the Application Form and send along with your CV to clerk@hamunitedcharities.com by noon of Monday 10th June. We anticipate that first interviews will be held during week commencing 17th June.

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