ACHIEVEMENTS AND PERFORMANCE
The majority of the charities work is delivered through the work and activities of the Lighthouse Project our drop-in community centre based in the Warwick Mill, a Grade II listed former cotton mill located in Middleton town centre. The Lighthouse Project is itself one of our charitable objectives.
The Lighthouse Project has been open to the public since June 2010 (just short of 4 years) and is now a highly regarded and successful project in the town, with a reputation for good work throughout the borough.
It is a key vehicle for the Charity in delivering and advancing many of its objectives.
The centre is typically open 5 days a week between the hours of 10am – 4pm, with some occasional evening and Saturday opening.
Since the Lighthouse Project first opened its doors visitor numbers have risen year-on-year as we have reached out to and supported more and more people.
Over the course of the last 12 months (2013/14) the monthly visits have continued to increase by around 20% and during the year we recorded approximately 30,000 visits to the Lighthouse, which equates to an average of 120 visits per day (~600 per week/2400 per month).
This translates into many thousands of individual visitors we have helped through the course of the year, and much more if you cumulatively add the number of visitors we have helped over the years that the Lighthouse has been running. This is a great achievement given that in June 2010 we began as a completely new project and recorded just 59 visits in our first month.
The Lighthouse Project 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.
We constantly review our work and listen to visitor feedback to ensure that we are meeting local needs as we see and experience them.
This is an example of our typical timetable:
- Computer and internet skills courses,
- Online basics, Online plus & learn my way,
- Free internet access
- Support for job hunting and personal development.
- Social lounge, interaction, networking, listening, support & encouragement.
- Back to work essentials Work Club,
- Universal jobmatch training,
- Beyond basics (Word & Excel) course.
- Other ad hoc training courses we run ourselves are by other organisations.
Weekly social groups and activities including:
- Card making classes and craft,
- Knit and natter group,
- Art group and painting sessions,
- Better together social group, scrabble, chess and board games,
- Middleton DIAL disability aids,
- Middleton Photography group,
- Heywood Model Railway Group,
- Who let the dads out play group (monthly), etc.
Regular/weekly drop-in/advice sessions and programmed health training including:
- Manchester Credit union,
- Together UK – your voice volunteer advocacy,
- Positive Steps careers advice for young people,
- National Careers service for adults,
- Middleton Probation Service,
- Health Trainers (Cook and taste),
- RMBC benefits advice,
- Listening post – listening service
- Pennine Care Expert patients sessions,
- Pennine Care Psychological therapies Stress classes,
- Healthwatch Rochdale,
- Alzheimers Society memory wellbeing café, etc.
During the course of the last year we have added a significant new resource to our work at the Lighthouse Project, the Middleton Central Foodbank, which has come about by Inspire Middleton partnering with several local churches to set up and run a Trussell Trust foodbank franchise to serve the Middleton area and surrounds.
The activities at the Lighthouse Project are grouped into four broad categories which are;
- Employment and Skills
- Social interests and activities
- Health, mental health and wellbeing
- Families and Children (inc Foodbank)
Employment and Skills
The Lighthouse Project is a registered UK online centre which a national network of over 400 centres that help tackle digital exclusion by providing free internet access and training for beginners to learn about computers and online skills.
Our UK online centre activities aimed at improving digital skills continued and expanded. The provision of basic online and computing skills remains a mainstay of our work in helping tackle the digital exclusion experienced by over 8 million people in the UK. This work is always in high demand.
During the year we helped over 280 people to complete the Learn My Way Online Basics course, set up email accounts and start using the internet.
Through our UK online centre membership we are a City & Guilds assessment centre and during the year we started to offer assessments for the City & Guilds EL3 module for Online Basics.12 of our visitors have taken this up so far and been awarded Certificates, for many this was their first formal qualification since leaving school. It was rewarding to see.
Our Employability work is complemented by our UK online centre work, i.e. providing people with core internet and computer skills which directly helps and supports unemployed people in Middleton because many have little or no computer skills, which significantly reduces their ability to look for and find work, surveys show that over 50% of all jobs are now only advertised online.
We estimate about 2/3rds of our visitors use our computers to look for work or apply for jobs (this was approx. 20,000 visits last year).
A large proportion of our visitors are signposted to us from Middleton Job centre as a good place to get digital and employability skills and support.
We run weekly Work Club activities which continued through the year including the development of our own motivational and employability course called ‘Why don’t You..? The course was delivered over 12 sessions, three per week on a rolling 4-weekly cycle.
We help approximately 15-20 people a week with CV’s which are now essential for applying for jobs, this involves help to update existing, or create entirely new CV’s; which amounts to between 750-1000 CV’s during the year. This support has grown year-on–year for the last few years as the provision of this type of support from other organisations has diminished in the area.
We maintained our relationship with Rochdale MBC’s economic affairs Skills & Work team through our work club activities, and membership of the Skills & Work Forum, which help support the councils’ objective of improving the skills of the Borough’s residents.
Pam Semp and Carl Roach completed training (NVQ L3) as Assessors of Vocational training, which was funded by the Skills and Work team in order to help the Lighthouse Project expand its capacity and skills for supporting people looking for work.
Social Interests & Activities
We have continued to offer a wide range of activities which we have run at the Lighthouse Project. Social interest, hobbies and activities play a significant part in helping people to grow, develop or recover, and these are important to us and the visitors that we support.
During the year we ran or hosted the following range of weekly and ad hoc social and leisure activities, some of which have turned into regular new groups; Craft and card making classes, a Knit and natter group, art and painting classes, digital photography group, leather craft, cooking taster sessions, Model railway group, IT & social media taster sessions, children’s play activities, and social groups.
Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing
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 and wellbeing related activities within the Lighthouse Project Centre.
We also ran a number of courses around the theme of ‘Feel more positive’, which explored how we think and feel, understanding where our emotions come from, managing stress, understanding self esteem and how to build self confidence and become more motivated.
Work with other groups included, a poetry group, ‘better together’ a weekly social group, cooking with friends and 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. Our ‘Feel More Positive’ course which covers topics such as emotions, self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation and wellbeing.
Family & Children, inc Middleton Central Foodbank
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.
The foodbank was in the process of being set up and is likely to come into operation during the summer of 2014, which is beyond the scope of this current reporting period.
A group of local churches were keen to support and set up a Trussell Trust type foodbank to support needy families and individuals in the area who experience food poverty or food crisis.
After a period of consultation Inspire Middleton offered to facilitate the setting up and running of the foodbank on behalf of the churches as this fell within the scope of our charitable activities and as an existing charity it meant that the project could be progressed more quickly than trying to set up an entirely new organisation.
The foodbank will operate under the name – Middleton Central Foodbank registered with Trussell Trust which is a national Christian foodbank network.
We continued to support and work with a bank of 20-30 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 we 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.
Working Relationships with other organisations
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 (Tinder Foundation),
- Job Centre Plus – Middleton,
- Rochdale MBC – Employment and Skills Team, Community Champions, Economic affairs Team – Regeneration Service,
- National Careers Service,
- RMBC Housing Benefits team,
- Manchester Credit Union,
- Together UK – Your Voice advocacy service,
- Hopwood Hall College,
- Middleton Probation service,
- Positive Steps – careers service for young people,
- Pennine Care (formerly Heywood Middleton & Rochdale PCT) – Psychological Therapies team, Health Trainers, Community Mental Health Team,
- Healthwatch Rochdale,
- Alzheimer’s Society,
- Alkrington & Junction GP surgeries,
- Heywood Model Railway Group,
- Middleton DIAL,
- Upper Room Christian Fellowship,
- Alkrington & Providence URC,
- Mills Hill Baptist Church,
- All Saints & Martyrs C of E Church Langley,
- Long Street Methodist Church,
- Women Aglow,
- Heart Start – British Heart Foundation volunteers,
- RBH Housing,
- Riverside Housing,
- Middleton Photography Group,
- Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale – Princes Trust teams.
We maintain an Inspire Middleton and Lighthouse Project internet domain and web sites, as well as a new Middleton Central Foodbank website, 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 started to use twitter and facebook to share our work through social media. You can use the following links to reach us @LighthouseM24, @M24CentFoodbank, /LigthouseProjectM24, /Middletoncentral
We have also manage other domain names, including 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. Middleton Dial use one of these domains for their own website.
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.