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By Dan Roberts | 04 March 2021 | TAGS: Bury, Volunteers, Community groups, Social prescribing, Connecting Communities, Dan

Over the past 12 months we have been working closely with organisations like Bury VCFA and Bury Live Well Service to explore how we connect closer together, to tackle some of the big issues when it comes to moving more in our communities. Sport England outlines in their strategy launch that one of the big issues is Connecting Communities, one example we feel is going to be vital for the recovery of our communities is how people, groups and communities can support social prescribing. 1 in 5 visits to a GP are for social issues and social prescribing is a way of linking people into social opportunities that are in their local area. It relies of a network of link workers and GP practices working in collaboration to help sources and connect people with opportunities to meet the potentially complex needs of a person. Whether someone feels lonely and needs an easy turn up and play kick about or someone who needs a buddy to accompany them down to the local knit and natter group, the aim is to establish a network of opportunities in the places people live.

In Bury, The Beacon Service, a service delivered by Bury VCFA, aims to improve people’s wellbeing by supporting individuals to connect with local community, voluntary and faith organisations. They have been supporting our work to engage local groups, clubs and charities. Their help in understanding the value of finding local opportunities to link to their service that offer a welcoming environment to someone who might not consider themselves an active person (Active for at least 30 minutes a day). Through our work we’ve been hearing some great ideas of what that could look like in Bury.

On January 21st, we hosted an open invite zoom call to talk about how we connect communities to move more in Bury. We called it Connecting Communities, opened with a video of the Bury Moving Strategy, which was followed by two local people, a Water Polo Club and Aphasia Charity sharing their experiences of adapting their offers to covid to help people move more. There were presentations later in the event from Beacon Service, to introduce the local social prescribing service.

Between the speakers we harnessed the energy in the room by facilitating some breakout rooms to find out how people we’re feeling and what they we’re looking forward to. We then dug into some of the biggest barriers to moving more in Bury and what we found has set in motion a series of further calls to dig deeper into the feedback we heard and what can be done about it. The next session is on March 9th focused on reducing isolation.

The focus going forward will be to keep bringing people and communities together in Bury to keep connecting, talking and taking action to help people move more in Bury. One of our major objectives is and will continue to be ensuring that our approach to aligning the support on offer for people and communities is relevant and can meet the needs of the local landscape. While the goal is to empower local communities, it’s important to recognise that these communities are a collection of people sharing their time freely. If we hope to see meaningful change within communities, the local support offer needs to be connected to itself and be confident in being able to deal with the complex needs that may arise from engaging people in conversations about their place.

For now, our working group has the essential basics covered, the Live Well Service are well established within the network of community sport and activity and actively support community groups, while Bury VCFA are well established within the network of community VCSE groups and organisations and provide capacity building support from funding and volunteering to forums and governance. We have also been able to reach out to our networks to fill gaps. At the event, we also welcomed Rowing GB who discovered there were actually no rowing clubs in Bury but was able to share opportunities to introduce covid secure indoor rowing taster sessions to the network of people that joined the call. International Mixed Ability Sports joined the call and was able to share their offer.

We hope to continue expanding the network of support that is available to people and communities in Bury, if you wish to find out more, please get in touch or fill in this form to share your thoughts on moving more in Bury.

If you would like to attend the Connecting Communities Session on the 9th March at 6pm, please sign up here.

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