Charity helps residents make a connection

Published on: 04 Jan 2013

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Charity helps residents make a connection

A charity that helps isolated Keynsham residents make new connections with their community is appealing for volunteers to become supporters or befrienders. Here, volunteer coordinator Kerri Mann tells us about The Care Forum's New Routes Project. Kerri Mann

The New Routes Project operates just in Keynsham and has been running since 2009. Typically the project has worked with people (aged 16 or over) who feel depressed or socially isolated, are bereaved or are new to the area.  They may also be people who have too few hobbies or interests, may have decreased self-confidence or low mood. Anyone can be referred to New Routes by their GP and the aim is to increase their patients’ wellbeing and to create a better connected community in Keynsham.

Following a referral by a GP, New Routes workers assess  their clients’ support needs to discover practical and social ways to improve their overall wellbeing by finding them volunteer work, education or training opportunities, as well as opportunities to explore hobbies and interests. They may also provide links to religious or faith groups, or physical health and fitness classes.

New Routes has worked with over 200 people from Keynsham and receives referrals from GPs based at Temple House, St Augustine’s and Westview surgeries.
In 2011, New Routes was awarded a grant from the Department of Health to set up a team of volunteers to provide community support and befriending.  Care Forum

The volunteers are trained and then matched by the workers to a New Routes client. Volunteer supporters help clients to take their first steps into local activities and volunteer befrienders offer ongoing friendship. Training is provided, travel expenses are paid and ongoing support is available.

Some people who were initially referred to the project have later become volunteers for New Routes themselves. As well as making a huge difference to how New Routes clients feel about their lives, volunteers also get to develop their own skills, meet new people and increase their own self confidence.

To find out about how to become a volunteer supporter or befriender in Keynsham, contact Kerri Mann on 0117 965 4444 or at kerrimann@thecareforum.org.uk

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