Achievements: April 2014 – March 2015

ACHIEVEMENTS AND PERFORMANCE – April 2014 – March 2015

The charities work is delivered through its own efforts and through the activities of the Lighthouse Project our drop-in community centre/hub, and the Middleton Central Foodbank which are both 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, and Middleton Central Foodbank is run on behalf of several local churches.

Lighthouse Project

The Lighthouse Project has been open for nearly 5 years (since June 2010) and is now a highly regarded and successful community project in the town, with a reputation for good work throughout the borough.

The centre is open 5 days a week (10am – 4pm), with occasional evening and Saturday opening. In January 2015 we passed a visitor footfall milestone of over 100,000 visits since the Lighthouse Project first opened its doors visitor. We have seen that footfall has risen year-on-year as we have reached out and supported more and more people. Current footfall (2014/15) has been around 30,000 visits per year, which equates to an average of 120 visits per day (~600 per week/2400 per month).

Cumulatively this translates into many thousands of individual visitors we have helped over the years that the Lighthouse has been running. This is a great achievement given that when we began in June 2010 we recorded just 59 visits in our first month.

The Lighthouse Project is a centre of activity and a hub for local people, which provides a varied programme of activities during the year. We regularly review our existing activities and develop new ones, in response to visitor and beneficiary feedback to ensure that we are meeting the expressed needs of beneficiaries and the community.

Our typical activities include:

Daily –

  • 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.

Weekly –

  • Back to work essentials Work Club,
  • Universal jobmatch training,
  • Beyond basics (Word & Excel) courses.
  • Other ad hoc training courses we run ourselves or with 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,
  • Who let the dads out play group (monthly), etc.

Regular/weekly drop-in/advice sessions and programmed health training Including;

  • Together UK – your voice volunteer advocacy,
  • Positive Steps careers advice for young people,
  • National Careers service for adults,
  • Living Well (Cook and taste),
  • RMBC revenue & benefits advice,
  • Pathways recovery service
  • Pennine Care Expert patients sessions,
  • Pennine Care Psychological therapies Stress classes,
  • Pennine Acute – Healthy weights
  • Cartwheel Arts – wellbeing dominos project
  • Feel more positive wellbeing sessions
  • Alzheimers Society memory wellbeing café, etc.

How we categorise our work

As we help and support people in many different and diverse ways we have sought to group our activities into four broad categories which are;

  1. Employment and Skills
  2. Social interests and activities
  3. Health, mental health and wellbeing
  4. Families and Food (inc Foodbank & cooking)

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 are aimed at improving digital skills and tackling digital exclusion. The provision of basic online and computing skills remains a mainstay of our work in helping tackle the digital exclusion experienced by over 24% of people in the UK (8 million+). This work is always in high demand. During the year we helped over 250 people to start 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 offered assessments for the City & Guilds EL3 module for Online Basics, 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 move closer to the workplace 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 from Middleton Job centre to receive digital and employability skills and support.

We run weekly Work Club activities through the year including our own motivational and employability course called ‘Why don’t You.. Back to work Essentials. A course delivering 12 sessions ( three per week) on a rolling 4-weekly cycle throughout the year..

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 being created or updated during the year. This support has been at this level for  the last few years as the provision of employability support from other organisations has diminished.

We maintained our relationship with several Rochdale MBC’s teams including the 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.

Carole Sharples and Colleen Crawford both undertook NVQ L3 training in Information Advice & Guidance (IAG), which they passed, and Carl Roach completed a NVQ L3 in Community Development, several other team members and volunteers undertook NVQ L2 training in Food Safety in Catering, which was funded through a Heywood Middleton Rochdale Clinical Commissioning core funding grant to help the Lighthouse Project expand its capacity and skills for supporting people.

Social Interests & Activities

We continued to offer a wide range of activities at the Lighthouse Project. Social interest, hobbies and activities played 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, cooking taster sessions,  IT & social media taster sessions, children’s play activities, and social groups.

Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing

We offered a variety of activities that support the improvement of individual 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.

These included, ‘better together’ a 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. Our ‘Feel More Positive’ course which covers topics such as emotions, self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation and wellbeing.

Family & Food, (inc foodbank & cooking)

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 adapt our card making activities to hold childrens sessions during school holiday periods.

Food – Cooking

We also ran a number of cooking based social groups designed to help people learn basic cooking skills and how to cook for less. These were done under the banners of ‘More food less waste’, and ‘Eat well for less’, which are both national initiatives around improving cooking skills & budgeting.

Food – Middleton Central Foodbank

In March 2014 we started working on the set-up phase for starting the foodbank, we operate this new resource for the benefit of the community, under the name – Middleton Central Foodbank registered with Trussell Trust which is a national Christian foodbank network.

This project came about through collaboration between Inspire Middleton and several local churches who wanted to set up and run a ‘Trussell Trust foodbank franchise’ to meet the needs of people experiencing food poverty in Middleton and the surrounding areas. The foodbank is co-located within the Lighthouse Project and runs as an additional service to its wider work.

The foodbank was opened to the public at the end of July 2014 after several months of preparations. During the year up to the end of March 2015 we supported 1034 individuals with emergency food parcels (658 adults and 376 children).  We received donations of 12.5 tonnes of food and gave away 9.6 tonnes in support of needy families and individuals in the area where experiencing food poverty or food crisis. In addition to this we also support some local school breakfast clubs by providing cereals and other items to help them provide breakfast to needy children.

The foodbank works in conjunction with over 40 other local organisations who act as referral agencies and hold vouchers for distribution to people in need. These organisations are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the foodbank within the community.

Volunteers

Volunteers are essential to our work and without them we would not be able to provide the levels of service and support that we have achieved over the last 5 years.

We continued to support and work with a bank of 20-40 regular volunteers who help us to run the Lighthouse Project activities on a daily basis, and the foodbank. 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.

Over the last 3 years our volunteer visits have been around 9,000, and 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 & Skills, Community Champions, Economic affairs –  Regeneration,
  • National Careers Service,
  • RMBC Housing Benefits team,
  • Together UK – Your Voice advocacy service,
  • Hopwood Hall College,
  • Middleton Probation service,
  • Positive Steps – careers service for young people,
  • Pennine Care – Psychological Therapies team, Health Trainers, Community Mental Health Team,
  • Alzheimer’s Society,
  • Alkrington & Junction GP surgeries,
  • 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,
  • Standguide,
  • Heart Start – British Heart Foundation volunteers,
  • RBH Housing,
  • Middleton Photography Group,
  • Pennine Acute – Healthy weights team
  • Pathsways(Big Life Group) – recovery Service
  • Livingwell (Big Life Group) – Health trainers

Financial Review

See Annual Report

Plans for the Future

We will continue to develop our work and the activities that we offer for meeting local needs. This will help us to increase our volunteer and visitor numbers.

We will be undertaking a series of consultations with visors, partner organisations and the general community in preparation for carrying out a formal evaluation of our work and activities.

We will be exploring new ways of raising funds and finances to help us build up our supporter base and improve our sustainability. We will also begin building new donor relationships through our new Lighthouse Keeper partnership scheme.

The premises that we occupy have recently been sold to new owners and we understand that they have plans to redevelop the building, we don’t know what those plans are or how they will affect us, however we are mindful that we may well have to consider alternative premises for our work.

Post YE note: – The Landlords served a notice to quit on Inspire Middleton in June 2015 by using a break clause in the lease that occurs in February 2016 (year 6). We are now actively seeking alternative premises.