The people we work with are our heroes. Through the changes they make, they provide the power to build strong communities. Here are a few videos and stories from people that have been involved with Southern Brooks. They have made real changes in their lives and their journeys are inspiring. By taking time and energy to develop themselves, they have found themselves in a position of wanting to give back to their communities 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 her to Health Champions training at Southern Brooks. Chris then implemented Health Champions 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 skills, knowledge and to help support the people around him. Since starting as a volunteer, Loren has signposted others to multiple services across South Gloucestershire. He does this through his social and voluntary networks, and at awareness events.
Loren's currently studying a counselling course and will soon start a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He has made plans to co-facilitate Southern Brooks' ADHD courses, possibly with the National Autistic Society. Since qualifying as a 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 help seeking future employment in administration. Shwetha became an admin volunteer at the Volunteer Centre. She quickly gained confidence and was supported into 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 she was very much appreciated at the centre. She has offered to help at 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 think 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 with a range issues including: disabilities, domestic violence, mental health and financial hardship. Christmas can be a difficult time. Your donations went towards creating fifty hampers for local families and individuals who may feel isolated at Christmas.
Tina participated in Southern Brooks' Wellbeing Mentor service, because 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 Bromford Housing 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 Bromford 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 Friends workshop, I was so inspired by the efforts of others and the Dementia Friends initiative, I thought my firm has 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 the 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.
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 was encouraging 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 Job 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 the Green Spaces group at Blakeney Road Community Allotment and also became a regular 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 Job 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 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 learnt at Brooks Café.
Drop in to Brooks Cafe to enjoy delicious food and inquire about volunteering opportunities.
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.”
When David (*identity has been changed) first started coming to The Patch youth centre, his behaviour was very erratic and hyperactive. He wouldn’t listen to any of the staff when asked to carry out a task. Over a period of a few weeks one of our Youth Workers gained his trust and built a positive relationship with David, setting small tasks to focus on.
As David's confidence grew, he began to interact with the other club members and started taking part in activities, using his interest in cooking to take a lead in the kitchen. Coming to the youth centre has had a positive effect on both David’s home and school life. His parents have thanked us for the work we have done, and he now participates in more after school activities and helps around the home - particularly in the kitchen!
Our Youth Workers are passionate about helping young people achieve their potential - if you are too, check out our Youth Work accredited courses here.