The people in the areas we work in are our heroes. Through the changes they make they provide the power to build strong communities.
Here are few videos and stories from people who have been involved with us. They have made real change in their lives and it is inspiring to know how they've done it. By taking time and energy to develop themselves, people often find themselves in the position of wanting to give back and help others achieve their goals.
Alicia worked as a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. She completed our 'Introduction to Youth Work' whilst gaining practical experience in our youth centre. She then left her adult support worker job and is now working with young people in their communities.
Alicia said, "The 8-week introduction course gave me a good insight into the purpose of youth work, the meaning of it and the skills you need to have and learn to become a youth worker. This helped me go onto the Level 2 & 3 Youth Work Practice qualification.
The course wasn't all theory, there's lots of practical sessions, such as team building games, communication activities and individual practical exercises. This was great as I'm a hands-on learner and learn better by doing things rather than sitting in a classroom listening and writing. I've done many college courses and the theory wasn't set out in the same way. I found the theory much more relaxed and I enjoyed doing it. Every week we touched on different things and I was intrigued to follow it through until the end.
The tutors were very friendly, always happy to help and answer any questions without making you feel inadequate.
I would recommend this course to anyone looking for career change or to try something new.”
If you are interested in Youth Work courses, click here to know more about it.
Chris wanted to improve her confidence and explore future employment. She approached our volunteer centre in Patchway which led to her Health Champion training at Southern Brooks.
Chris then implemented Health Champion drop-in sessions at Patchway library, which increased referrals to other community projects. Chris now works part time as our Volunteer Centre Coordinator for Patchway and The Stokes.
Click here to explore more about Volunteering and Volunteering opportunities
Loren became a Health Champion to gain the skills and knowledge to helping people gain the support they need. Since starting as a volunteer, Loren has signposted to multiple services across South Gloucestershire. He does this through his social and voluntary networks, as well as at awareness events.
Loren's currently studying a counselling course and will soon start a BSC in Psychology. He has made plans to cofacilitate Southern Brooks' ADHD course, possibly with the National Autistic Society. Since qualifying as Health Champion, Loren developed as a Mental Health Champion by delivering emotional wellbeing sessions for South Gloucestershire Council.
Shwetha registered as a volunteer in February 2015. She wanted to gain confidence and to help seek future employment in administration. Shwetha became an admin volunteer at the volunteer Centre. She quickly gained confidence and was supported ainto employment in an admin role for a major local supermarket.
She continued to volunteer with us but eventually her work took over. Shwetha was sad to leave and has been very much appreciated at the centre. Shwetha has offered to help at the future events outside of her work hours.
Single parent Amy lives with her nine year old daughter who has behavioural difficulties and is undergoing assessments for neurodevelopmental disorders. Amy herself has fibromyalgia (a long-term condition causing pain all over her body) and other health issues that prevent her from working. Amy struggles every day to manage her own health and her daughter’s behaviour, which is often violent. On receiving the hamper an emotional Amy said:
‘Knowing that people care about us and our situation makes me feel less isolated. I don’t people realise what difference receiving this gift makes, it reduces stress and gives us an opportunity to do some of the normal things other families do at Christmas.
Thank you for donating your small items, tinned and long-life products in our Hamper Appeal this Christmas. We work with thirty vulnerable families across South Gloucestershire. Their issues cover a range of issues including: disabilities, domestic violence, mental health and financial hardship. Christmas can be a difficult time. Your donations went towards creating fifty hampers for our local families and individuals who may feel isolated at Christmas.
A huge thank you to the Direct Line Group on Broad Street, Bristol who collected and donated items for our fifty hampers, and even rolled up their sleeves to help us pack the hampers.
Tina used our Southern Brooks Wellbeing Mentor service, as she was behind in paying her rent and risked losing her home. Tina has a number of medical conditions and suffered from depression, which broke down her marriage.
With our support, Tina tackled her situation. A support worker arranged meeting with Merlin and other providers to discuss her debt. As well as supporting Tina with completing paper work and attending meetings with other agencies, the support worker also arranged weekly counselling for her.
After six-months of support, Tina is no longer in debt to Merlin Housing and was able to stay in her home, Tina can also manage her finances without further support. Tina’s mental health largely improved and she is feeling much happier and more in control of her actions.
“I’m a senior associate at Barcan + Kirby. After attending a Dementia Friendly workshop, I was so inspired by the efforts of others and the dementia friendly initiative, I thought my firm had to get involved.
I decided to become a Dementia Friend and then a Dementia Friends Champion so I could deliver information sessions to all of our staff. I introduced this initiative to our partners at my firm and they embraced it. Becoming a Dementia Friend is now part of our induction programme for all new staff.
My firm has offices across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, so it is important we show our commitment to the initiative by joining both Dementia Action Alliances. Our firm is working towards being Dementia Action Alliances. Our firm is working towards being dementia friendly. We’ve looked at our office space and reception areas to make them as dementia friendly as possible. We’ve introduced different signage to assist people living with dementia when attending our offices. We’ve also changed our literature to make it more dementia friendly.
By joining the Dementia Action Alliances we’re showing our commitment to the initiative. Our clients and those in our communities can see we’re committed to being dementia friendly and that we welcome all clients who attend our offices.
Read more about Dementia here
Beth is a 49-year old woman who lives alone in Patchway. Merlin Housing referred Beth to our Wellbeing Mentoring Service. Beth was unemployed, struggling with low mood and anxiety and experiencing low self-esteem.
While supporting Beth, her partner had died suddenly, followed shortly by her mother’s death within a year. She became “overwhelmed” by grief and coped by isolating herself and drinking excess alcohol. When our project co-ordinator initially met Beth, she was struggling to cope with life. The job centre were encouraging Beth back into work, but Beth described experiencing Beth back into work, but Beth described experiencing panic attacks which prevented her from being in social situations, driving her car or using a computer. She stated, “I just want ‘me’ back again”.
With support and encouragement (from a Southern Brooks Wellbeing Mentor and activities arranged through the Wellbeing Programme) Beth joined the Southern Brooks Work Club, which supported Beth to build her confidence in using a PC, writing her CV and applying for jobs.
Although anxious about being with groups of people, Beth identified that she would like to try some new activities. She joined some gardening activities at Blakeney Road Community Allotment and also became a regularly member in the Wellbeing Drop-In sessions in Patchway; both activities offered her new friendships, a way of normalising her experiences and enjoying activities, which were meaningful.
Beth’s anxiety is now more manageable and her self-worth and confidence have increased, things have improved to the extent that she is now in paid employment and volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary, and re-starting old hobbies that she used to enjoy. She’s still in contact with the friends she met through the Wellbeing Programme.
Click here to know more about Wellbeing sessions
Jo joined our Work Club with aspirations to gain employment. We worked on Jo’s CV, while offering volunteering and confidence building opportunities. Jo volunteered her admin skills in our Southern Brooks office, and supported us by sitting on interview panels. Jo made significant improvements and is now doing further training. Jo says, “Southern Brooks has helped me tremendously by giving me lots of opportunities. I now feel like I have more focus and know where I want to get to go in life”.
Check our Event link to know details about Job club in Kingswood and Patchway
Jan joined the Brooks Café in 2012. Her role included serving customers and preparing food. Before joining the café Jan had low self-esteem and avoided going out and meeting people. Her confidence, self-esteem and thirst for living life has grown since volunteering at Brooks Café. Jan is now looking for paid work, which will use the skills she achieved at Brooks Café.
Drop in to Brooks Cafe to enjoy delicious food and if any volunteer opportunity for you.
Mariagrazia moved from Italy and came to volunteer at Brooks Café with very little spoken English and a keen love of cookery. During her time volunteering she received sponsorship from Merlin housing to do an apprenticeship through a catering college. Maria is now a full-time paid member of the café staff team.
“I really enjoy being part of a brilliant team working in a nice environment. I’m improving my skills all the time. I love working in the café.”