Ian shares his experience of GL11 at our AGM

On Wednesday 2nd October 2019 GL11 held its annual AGM.  Our Chair Annika Howard presented the annual report covering the previous years activities and annual accounts to a varied group of stakeholders consisting of staff, trustees, funders, participants and volunteers.  To make the AGM more engaging we asked some of our participants if they would be willing to share their stories and journeys.  We are delighted that Ian, one of our Garden Volunteers was happy to speak.  This is his story:

“Twelve months ago, I was in a bad place. I felt too ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it. I had been drinking too much and it was affecting my work and personal life.  My line manager asked me if I was OK, I remember putting my head in my hands, I did not know what was wrong with me……  He referred me to Occupational Health who then refereed me to a GP. I was told I had severe depression and anxiety and was signed off work.

The GP told me I had 3 options: the first do nothing, the second was to take anti-depressants and the third was to go and have counselling.  I wanted to talk and looked into Listening Post and Let’s Talk but there were either fees or a long waiting list.  I had no confidence, self esteem or respect.

I didn’t know where to turn…. I was ready to give up.  A colleague at work suggested I try GL11, so I decided to pop in.  I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as I walked into reception, I knew this place was going to help me.  I was welcomed and supported. I was introduced to Sara, a Counsellor who said she could see me.  I began 121-hour sessions of counselling.  It was during these sessions that I gained the confidence to be able to talk openly and freely and it helped me immensely. I was not judged, and I felt comfortable coming in to have a cup of tea or read a book or just to chat.

As I started to come more often, I got introduced to Sandra, GL11’s Volunteer Co-ordinator.  She suggested me becoming a volunteer at GL11 and I decided to give it a go and help Miriam who runs the Gardening Club.  Helping in the gardens is not work, it’s a pleasure and a privilege.  GL11 provided a listening ear for me when I was at my darkest time so me volunteering is my way of giving something back to GL11.

I have found something here at GL11, it can’t be bottled, and it does not have a label, but I can honestly say that I am not the person who walked in here 12 months ago.  Looking back, I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time and it was coming here and being able to talk that has helped me so much.

I no longer drink, I’ve returned to work, I now run every day.  Before coming to GL11 I did not like myself, so how do you expect someone to like you if you don’t like yourself?  Having the opportunity to talk freely here at GL11 has been my saving grace.  I am now full of hope and ambition!”

GL11 Community Hub bags a share of Tesco’s bag fund!

Local people are benefiting from a warmer, more inviting work space thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help.

GL11 was one of three groups shortlisted to receive the cash award from Tesco’s Bags of Help fund where shoppers were invited to head along to Tesco stores in Cam and Wotton to vote for who they thought should take away the top grant. Voting took place at Tesco stores in Cam and Wotton over the two months of January and February with GL11 receiving considerable support for it’s project.

“We would like to say a big thank you to everyone that voted for GL11 Community Hub with their blue tokens in Tesco stores Bags of Help scheme” comments Indigo Redfern, CEO at GL11, “We are thrilled to be receiving the money we were hoping for. It was wonderful to have Antony Giuliano, Community Champion for Tesco, Cam, visit GL11 this week to present us with a cheque for £3,000. The money will make such a difference to the Men’s Shed project that runs here at the Hub every Monday 1-3pm. The session is free of charge and we welcome anyone who would might like to drop in and join us”.

Antony Giuliano, Community Champion at Tesco presenting the cheque to Colin Wright, Men’s Shed Volunteer.

The funds from Tesco will be used to make improvements to the shed, providing a place for a variety of members of the community to get together to make and mend, invent and create, meet, talk and share with each other. Due to significant demand, the shed needed to be upgraded so that projects and courses could continue to be offered and the space utilised more effectively. By improving the shed, GL11 will be able to offer more activities, especially in the colder months of the year.

Men’s groups

Two new groups aimed at men will start at GL11 Community Hub this month – Men’s Shed and Domino Club.

Men’s Shed is similar to a garden shed – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.

GL11 community Shed will be a place where men can come and learn new skills and share their own skills in a friendly, social setting. Initially there will be a focus on woodwork, but this will diversify according to what the shed members want to do. Members can work on individual projects or on group or community projects.

GL11 future plans include extending to Women’s Shed and Family Shed, offering the chance for even more people to get involved.

Domino Club will be an opportunity for some friendly competition with a selection of ever favourite traditional board games including dominos, shove ha’penny, bar skittles, backgammon and Scrabble.

Liane James, GL11 Wellbeing Delivery Manager comments:
“Men are telling us that there aren’t enough opportunities for them to socialize and do activities that are of particular interest to them. These new groups offer that for residents of the GL11 area. They are free of charge – under GL11’s Your Way to Wellness Project which is funded by The Community Fund.”

Men’s Shed will run every Monday, 1-3pm starting Monday 29th April. Domino Club will take place on Wednesdays 10am-12 noon starting Wednesday 8th May.

GL11 Voices Choir bring joy to Coaley Church

GL11 Voices entertained the audience in Coaley Church at the last of the Spring series of Music & Cake. Starting with A Nigerian Welcome Song the group took us on a journey to Scotland with Wild Mountain Thyme, North America with the spiritual Wade in the Water and fittingly on St Patrick’s Day to Ireland with When Irish Eyes are smiling, Molly Malone and an Irish Blessing. In between we were treated to, amongst others, Abba’s Super Trouper and Phyllis Dillon’s Don’t Stay Away.

Ably directed by Pauline Thomas, the group sang enthusiastically, despite being only half their usual number. They sing for fun every Monday afternoon and that love of singing certainly came through, with audience participation in more than piece.

What wonderful talent we have locally!

Help us to ‘bag’ some funds!

GL11 Community Hub calls out for votes to bag a share of Tesco’s bag fund!

Voting will take place in Cam and Wotton Tesco stores in January and February 2019.

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.

Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

The project GL11 would like support with is The GL11 Shed. The aim is to create a better space for vulnerable and disadvantaged people using the GL11 shed, to help improve their mental health through practical and emotional projects and support.

The GL11 Shed provides a place for a variety of vulnerable members of our community to get together to make and mend, invent and create, meet, talk and share with each other.  The Shed hosts our ‘Men’s Shed’ group for local and unemployed men, and ‘She Shed’ projects which are targeted at getting women involved in practical hands on projects.  Young people and adults with learning disabilities also use the space for creative and making activities.

Due to this significant demand, The Shed needs to be improved so we can continue to offer projects and courses in this space and also utilise it more effectively.  By improving The Shed, we will be able to offer more activities, especially in the colder months of the year.

These activities will help our beneficiaries to increase confidence through making new friends and building networks.  The practical projects will help them to feel useful and purposeful whilst developing or maybe even sharing their practical skills.  By getting out and getting involved in the community it will help to reduce stress, anxiety and isolation for these beneficiaries, and may also be a stepping stone to further activities and within the wider community.

‘I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. I love everything about GL11 – the diversity of the people, how the staff make you feel welcome, happy and safe! I would recommend it to anyone. There’s so much positivity at GL11 that you would be almost guaranteed to gain something from it.’ (Rose)

‘GL11 made a big difference to my wellbeing, I felt I can come here and not be judged, it has helped with my mental health, it makes me feel worth something.’ (James)

‘GL11 has opened me up, I felt so excited when I first came, it is wonderful! I was closing up on my own, I have learnt how to talk again, learning to do things for myself, feel part of the community for the first time in 30 years.’ (Dorothy)

Voting is open in all Tesco stores in January and February 2019 and customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop. Supporters can vote for GL11 at the Cam superstore and at the Wotton Under Edge Express store.

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £63 million to more than 20,000 projects across Britain. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding.

Alec Brown, Head of Community at Tesco, said:

“Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Indigo Redfern GL11’s Manager says

“We have our roots very much in the community, responding to what the community wanted. We’re trying to empower people to enable them to find out what they want to be doing in their lives, and then support them to make those changes – people coming into their own confidence and their own ability on how they want to move forward in their lives.”