Dallow Business Partnership

This grant was provided to fund community drop-in service where they provided a number of different activities including exercise classes, introductory/basic skills (counselling, first aid etc) as well as other wellbeing activities. We have raised awareness around a number of issues as well as conducting general fitness sessions.

These included; healthy lifestyles, women’s cancer screening, women and girls sexual health (including issue of FGM and also discussed cultural and faith attitudes preventing women from access services. Fitness activities were run by Active Luton, as well as by other community and voluntary groups and local authority. People left feeling more confident in coming forward with concerns, questions and asking for help , they have improved coping skills and manage their health better. The grant has made a big impact to the users, there has been support to the most vulnerable, information and inclusion , to improve their health and learning, and a coming together of different communities with long term positive relationships being formed. Project Coordinator from DBP.

Groundwork Luton and Bedfordshire

Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire are steering the development of the LFPA with the objective of supporting organisations working in the area of food poverty in Luton, to work in collaboration in order to maximise impact when addressing the underlying causes and impacts of food poverty.

A grant was awarded to support the further development of the Luton Food Poverty Alliance (LFPA) and the establishment and expansion of three Community Food Hubs in high deprivation areas of Luton (in the Farley, Park Town and Hart Hill areas of Luton). The roll-out of the Community Food Hubs will support the community to collectively grow fresh food, which can be used to achieve a number of benefits. This includes enriching local food bank provision, supply holiday hunger programmes being delivered from the hubs, improving diet and nutrition of people on low incomes living in the area, as well as addressing issues of isolation and supporting community cohesion through group activities.

Kings Arms Project

A grant was awarded towards their Women’s outreach project, working with up to 130 vulnerable women, who may be rough sleepers, homeless, struggling with addictions, escaping abusive relationships, ex-offenders, unemployed, have no recourse to public funds and refugees.

Julia, a Polish female, had been sleeping rough for many years and was predominantly disengaged from society. It took many, many months for Julia to begin to take a chance in trusting our Outreach Worker, as life had left Julia feeling battered, abused and betrayed. Eventually, Julia allowed herself to trust our Outreach worker and she came into the safety of the Nightshelter which provided Julia with a hot shower, a warm meal, a cosy bed and others that truly had her best interest at heart.

Julia was referred onto the Pathways to Employment programme by our Polish Outreach worker and first attended one of the Art courses. We noticed that Julia was quite shy and withdrawn and we realised that we needed to be very gentle and allow Julia to indicate when and if she would be ready to progress onto further courses. Over time, our team started to build a good working relationship with Julia, to the extent that she is now able to initiate contact with the Pathways to Employment team, she also maintains eye contact and holds your gaze when communicating.

Over a period of 11 months, Julia attended many different courses. These included the Sustrans bike course, the 8 week long Pathways to Employment Jobs club, the Money course, 2 social summer events, bowling and a Christmas social.

Our team worked closely with Julia and whilst attending the Pathways to Employment Jobs club, Julia gained housing in one of our No Recourse homes and expressed an interest in getting a job. Julia was increasing in self-confidence, and so the Outreach team supported Julia to organise and attend meetings with local recruitment agencies. Over the past few months, Julia has been successfully and gainfully employed in local factories. However, Julia is eager to secure a permanent job, and is continuing to engage with our Pathways to Employment team.

I am grateful for the help that you are giving me to turn my life around. I know I will do it now … before … I didn’t think it possible… never! Now, I will. Thank you so much.

Get involved

BLCF’s Initiative Evolve has been set up to raise funds for women’s groups in Bedfordshire and last year, we distributed over £60,000 to local women’s projects through the Mark West Fund and the Tampon Tax Fund.

go

Learning through the arts

A social enterprise organisation that were awarded a grant using arts to build confidence, motivation and skills to put on a concert or performance working with local groups and colleges. Funds raised would be donated to local charities the young people choose. The grant covered costs of workshops and sessions to build the young people’s ideas and a case study is provided below from this group.

A young man Ben (not his real name) in his early 20s, from a poor background, lives with a single-parent mother and suffers from mild depression. He has had some university education works adhoc locally in Luton. He loves music, but he is not allowed to express this, because his family thinks this is a waste of time. This project gave Ben, the opportunity to bring together a group of young people like himself together. It gave them the opportunity to engage and express themselves through music. He took a leadership role in the organising the project and feels greatly valued. Ben says he and his friend would do another funding raising concert to support another local charity for Christmas in 2019. The performance took place at The Well in High Town area, Luton which included a discussion and workshop about young people and mental health and how music has helped him and his friends come to terms with various issues in their lives. The performance was free but donations from the audience; (34 young people and a few adults from the community) raised a modest amount for Noah Enterprise.

The Butterfly Project

This organisation provides therapeutic support to survivors of domestic abuse, through a range of creative activities such and art-making and singing. They also offer women one to one art therapy and the general public expressive art sessions. They were awarded a grant to run a series of art-based therapy sessions to support vulnerable women presenting in a range of ways from mental illness, trauma, loss and those who have experienced domestic abuse.

KG, 32, began attending art therapy to support feelings of despair associated with her children being taken into care. KG has bipolar, learning difficulties, a history of alcohol addiction and self-harm. Initially, she felt victimised by social services and felt disempowered by the process. Her Core OM rated highly on negative emotion: feeling overwhelmed by her problems, distressed by unwanted images and memories and as a result finding it difficult to sleep.

Over the course of therapy, we were able to recognise that her current experience was an enactment of her own childhood with feelings she had held about her mother resurfacing as her own qualities. This realisation enabled us to work more deeply on the symbolic nature of her experience.

Before long KG was describing herself through her feelings instead of anecdotal summaries of day to day experience. She began to reflect on her experience more, recognising that her situation had come about due to poor behaviour and this time away from her children was opportunity to explore and improve herself for her and her children’s sake. She also began to realise the support system she had around her and spoke of this as a reflection of her own self value. KG’s evaluation of her time in art therapy spoke of feelings of heaviness at the outset which were now replaced by feelings of optimism and an awareness of her own self-worth and power.

Uprising

The grant awarded was to enable the organisation to deliver the Bedford and Luton Leadership Programme 2018-19. Over nine months, 27 sessions/events were delivered in each location, and participants attended a two-day Leadership Retreat. Sessions were hosted by senior leaders from public, private and not-for-profit sectors; repeated annually. There are at least 60 stakeholders that volunteer on the programme, including speakers, mentors, coaches and alumni from previous Leadership Programmes.

The programme encourages action-learning through the design and delivery of Social Action Campaigns (SACs), on topics that matter to young people. The Leadership Programme also includes a Dragon’s Den, where young people pitch their SAC to a room of senior leaders, and the top 3 campaigns win financial rewards to help their campaign grow. The programme not only creates more confident, knowledgeable young leaders but also contributes to a stronger, empowered community.

Our social action campaign is focused on addressing the lack of opportunities for underrepresented young people We’re running a survey as part of our social action to understand if young people in Bedfordshire feel confident to achieve their potential, or whether they feel limited by the challenges they face. Working on this survey has massively helped with my confidence. I have found it really nice to be in a room of people who look like me and care about the same things as me, as often in the Arts, where I work, people are white and middle class. It has also been really nice to go to places on the programme which are not normally accessible, such as the police HQ. Being on the programme has really made me think about areas and places I had previously seen as not for me and how I can challenge that.

Maya, 2018/19 Leadership Programme participant

"For me, the best part of the programme is the campaigns and social action element. Meeting a variety of different people and working in a team with them has been special. The ability to practice and make mistakes – you don’t get to do this elsewhere and it feels so empowering to be trusted and allowed to learn."