Building the Work
During the year we have continued to build on our existing activities to develop our charitable objectives.
The Lighthouse Project has been operating for 32 months and is now a successful project in it’s own right and is a key vehicle for the Charity in delivering and advancing many of its objectives. The centre is open 5 days a week typically between the hours of 10am – 4pm, with some evening and Saturday opening.
Over the course of the last 12 months the monthly visits to the Lighthouse have continued to increase and during the year April 2012 – March 2013 we recorded approximately 25,000 visits, which is an average of 100 visits per day. This is a fantastic achievement from where we began as a completely new project which recorded just 59 visits in its first month in June 2010. This translates into many thousands of individual visitors we have helped.
Through the Lighthouse Project the Charity provides a varied programme of activities during the year, to advance our charitable objectives, and these involve consolidating existing activities as well as developing new ones. These are grouped into four broad categories to help us put related activities together, these are;
Employment and Skills
Health and mental health
Social interests and activities
Families and Children
Employment and Skills
- Our UK online centre activities continued and expanded.The provision of basic online and computing skills is still a mainstay of our work in helping tackle the digital exclusion experienced by over 8 million people in the UK.This work remains in high demand and we helped over 280 people to complete the 6-part Online Basics course, set up email accounts and start using the internet.
- Our UK online centre work is important in its own right but it also closely fits in with and compliments our work to help the unemployed of Middleton.Many of our visitors come to us by referral from Middleton Jobcentre Plus because they have little or no computer skills and this severely reduces their ability to look for and find work.We estimate that about 2/3rds of our visitors use our computers to look for work or apply for jobs (this was approx. 16,500 visits last year).
- Our Work Club activities continued including the motivational and employability course called ‘Why don’t You..? which was developed by ourselves. The course was delivered in three sessions per week on a rolling 4-weekly cycle.
- We helped an average of 15 people a week to create new or update existing CV’s. which amounts to over 750 during the year. We saw a significant increase in our work supporting unemployed visitors looking for work, in conjunction with our UK online activities.
- We developed our relationship with Rochdale MBC’s economic affairs skills team through our work club activities which help meet the councils’ objective of improving the skills of the Borough’s residents.
- Pam Semp and Carl Roach also started to train as Vocational Assessors which was funded by the economic affairs team in order to help the Lighthouse Project expand its capacity and skills for supporting people looking for work.
Health and Mental Health
- We offered a variety of activities that support the improvement of individual health and mental health.Some of this was through our own programmes of training and developmental activities such as ‘why don’t you’, and ‘the listening post’; and also by hosting other groups who offered health related activities within the Lighthouse Project Centre.
- These included, ‘Live you best life’ a 10 week mental health improvement course, ‘better together’ weekly social group, ‘cook and taste’, and ‘food for mood’ cooking courses in conjunction with the local health trainers, ‘Expert Patient’ training programme and ‘Stress management classes’ through Pennine Care, a monthly memory wellbeing café tackling dementia by the Alzheimer’s Society.
- We started to explore the use of regular ‘drop-in’ type health sessions to allow people to access advice and support within the community.
Social Interests & Activities
- Social interest, hobbies and activities play a significant part in helping people to grow, develop or recover. We have continued to deliver a wide range of activities that we have been able to provide at the Lighthouse Project.
- During the year we ran or hosted the following range of weekly and ad hoc activities, some of which have turned into regular new groups; Craft and card making classes, a Knit and natter group, art and painting classes, leather craft, Heywood Model railway group, IT taster sessions, play activities, and a social group.
Family & Children
- We continued to run our ‘who let the dads out’ play group which is a monthly session to help dads, granddads or male carers to spend time playing with their children/toddlers.This has proved a successful alternative to going to other expensive play centres where the children go off and leave their dads sat watching them at a distance. The group encourages interactive play and enjoyment.
- We also adapted our card making activities to hold a number of childrens card making sessions during school holiday periods.
- We continued to support and work with a bank of regular volunteers who help us to run the Lighthouse Project and our activities on a daily basis.
- We have a wide mix of volunteers, some who come for short periods of time and others who have been with us for a longer period.
- Our volunteers are of different ages and backgrounds and this helps us to have a good mix of abilities and experience which was can use to share with visitors.
- Without our volunteers we would not be able to do the range and scale of work that we have achieved thus far, and we are very grateful for their invaluable contribution.
- These are some of the organisations we have worked with during the year, or who have used the Lighthouse to provide services / activities for visitors;
- UK Online Centres,
- Talk About Local,
- Job Centre Plus – Middleton,
- Rochdale MBC – Employment and Skills Team, Community Champions, Economic affairs Team – Regeneration Service, Adult mental health services,
- Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale –
- Heywood Middleton & Rochdale PCT (now Pennine Care) – Psychological Therapies team, Health Trainers, Community Mental Health Team,
- Voices 4 Wellbeing – Rochdale LINks,
- Alzheimer’s Society,
- Rochdale Employment Development Services (REDS),
- Middleton OCD Support Group,
- Heywood Model Railway Group,
- Upper Room Christian Fellowship,
- Alkrington & Providence URC,
- Women Aglow,
We maintain an Inspire Middleton and Middleton Lighthouse internet domain and web sites, and use these to provide introductions to our work, to build up volunteer interest and to communicate with supporters through web based newsletters and emails.
We have also secured two other domain names, lighthouseproject.org.uk, and inspireM24.org.uk which we plan to use to develop our promotional activity and so that we can encourage the establishment of a number of community led blog sites on local issues or activities.
In looking forwards we need to continue to build up the capacity and resources of the charity in order to expand and progress the work. This will include increasing the volunteer base, connection with more local organisations, and the raising of funds and donor support.
We will continue to develop our working projects and ideas and bring them to fruition as well as sparking and inspiring new ones along the way, this will be done in conjunction with increasing the promotional activity of the work, telling our story and increasing public and volunteer awareness.