Building the Work
During the year we have continued to build on our existing activities to develop our charitable objectives.
a) Middleton Street Pastors
The relationship with Middleton Street Pastors continued during the year however our involvement has progressively reduced as the group formed themselves into their own constituted association and established a management group who took over the running of the team’s activities.
As the group are now self-managing we have achieved our charitable objective in supporting them up to this point, but we will continue our links with them as they continue to develop.
b) The Lighthouse Project
The majority of the charities work is currently being delivered through the work and activities of our Lighthouse Project drop-in community centre, which in itself is one of our charitable objectives.
The Lighthouse Project has been operating for 21 months and is now a successful project for the charity to deliver and advance many of its objectives. The centre is currently open 5 days a week between the hours of 10am – 4pm, with some Saturday opening.
In the last 12 months the monthly visits to the centre have been increasing and during the year April 2011 – March 2012 we recorded approximately 15,500 visits, which is an average of 315 visits per week. This is a fantastic achievement for a completely new project which recorded just 59 visits in its first month in June 2010. This related to over 3500 individual visitors we helped.
At the Lighthouse Project we provided a varied programme of activities during the year, which involved consolidating existing activities as well as developing new ones.
We have put these into four broad categories to help us group 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. 10,300 last year alone).
- Our Work Club activities expanded to include a new motivational and employability course called ‘Why don’t You..? which we developed ourselves.This 36 hour course was delivered in three sessions per week on a rolling 4-weekly cycle.During the year we ran it seven times and supported 50 people to complete the whole course and develop their personal abilities and skills. The course was partly funded through the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities (NLDC) fund in conjunction with Hopwood Hall College.
- We helped an average of 17 people a week to create new or update existing CV’s. which amounts to over 850 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 new relationships 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.We also started working with their Community Champions who help support numeracy and literacy training.
- During the year both Pam Semp, our Centre manager, and Carl Roach undertook their level 4 PTLLS training (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning sector), to support our ongoing training activities.
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, Middleton OCD support group, and Philippi Trust counselling and listening training / services.
- 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 increased the number and range of activities that we have been able to provide.
- 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, guitar taster sessions, IT taster sessions, play activities, and a social group.
Family & Children
- We started a new group called ‘who let the dads out’ which is a monthly session to help dads, grandads 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 ran a number of play-days during the year in support of national playday initiatives, these too were aimed at encouraging children to take part in active play sessions.
- We also adapted our card making activities to hold a number of childrens card making sessions during school holiday periods.
- We continued to build our 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 – Get online Middleton,
- Heywood Middleton & Rochdale PCT (now Pennine Care) – Psychological Therapies team, Health Trainers, Community Mental Health Team, Drugs and Alcohol detached 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,
- Mills Hill Baptist Church,
- Women Aglow,
- Philippi Trust,
Inspire Middleton is also a member of:
- Community Development Exchange (CDX)
- Community and Voluntary Services Rochdale (CVSR)
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
- Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO)
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.