From TDC's Amy Allison
Yvonne is Chair of the BMECP 50+ (a multicultural older people’s group). During lockdown, Yvonne did whatever she could to continue to keep in touch with the 30+ members of the group. A weekly zoom session was set up for those who could use IT, and a WhatsApp group was also started. Yvonne kept in regular phone contact with many members, spoke to the TDC's Community Development Workers weekly and passed on any concerns about members and planned any activities that could be shared/sent out to the group.
Yvonne organised for a Christmas hamper to be delivered to all group members which many said helped them to feel connected to the group – that people were still there. Since mid September the group has started to meet in person. Yvonne organised restarting the group and is pivotal in planning the groups activities.
From TDC's Mark Drayton
Over the last year Sarah has been a key player on her estate but also in the wider community. Sarah is Chair of her Resident group but also a vital member of the Phoenix Social Supermarket which has provided thousands of food parcels for her estate and the wider Tarner and Hanover community. This service has been key to providing much needed support to her community and has worked throughout the COVID pandemic.
However the list goes one. Somehow Sarah finds the energy to campaign to get the old Freebutt pub recognised as a local community asset – a campaign that has just ended in victory and sits on the neighbourhood action plan group. She also Chairs the Hanover and Elm Grove Forum which has tackled a range of issues including anti social behaviour in the community and is currently consulting to make Hanover and Tarner a ‘Liveable’ Community.
I find it hard to sum up Sarah’s voluntary work apart from to say that the area she lives in is a better place for all because of her.
From TDC's Sue Sayers
Ruth has run the Winter Warmers Reminiscing Group for many years now and it offers a friendly once a month meeting for older people where everyone is encouraged to talk about their memories and listen to each other. She encourages every member to take a small part in helping the meetings to run smoothly.
Each year she makes funding applications to ensure the group can continue to meet and take outings together alongside their monthly meetings and has built up trusted relationships with her funders,
During Covid when they were unable to meet Ruth made regular telephone contact with all her members checking on their welfare and cascading useful information. She made sure the group was Covid safe once they were allowed to meet again and supported less confidant members to return.
She is a very kind and caring member of her community and deserves to be recognised for her voluntary work.
From TDC's Emma Reeves
Despite lockdown, and everything else, Peter and Michael continued to make sure that the community garden they look after remained open and accessible. Albion Garden is a little oasis in the Tarner area and was used by many different beneficiaries during lockdown including the residents of the extra care scheme next door. The garden has developed more and they have had more people come and volunteer.
They use Facebook to share uplifting photos and organised a community garden trail. At the same time they have been working hard to restore the community rooms at Thornsdale high rise, which they are now calling the Albion Hub. These rooms have been closed for years and they continue to work with BHCC, local community groups and residents to try and get them functioning. This has enabled the Phoenix Food Project to have somewhere to store their dried goods. They are setting up a cycle repair project and are working with the council to upgrade the kitchen and improve the rooms in general.
They each volunteer on average 30 hours a week towards these two amazing community spaces – the garden and the Albion Hub.They have surveyed residents, sent out newsletters, engaged with the liveable neighbourhoods project and so much more.
These guys work so hard for their community, they are the community champions of their area.
From TDC's Caroline Vitta
Lauran is regularly keen to get involved in her community and has taken part in numerous opportunities with us in TDC. In December 2020 she got involved with our Youth Social Action Project and through this supported the Give Street Project donation day in Hanover where she helped with taking donations form the public and took a lead in getting them sorted in bags. She is also getting involved with a similar day at the 67 centre in October.
Lauran took part in the Be the Change Young Leaders course in the summer and helped write a Youth Led Grants bid to help get some money to help other young people put their social action project ideas into practice.
She has also helped with several consultation sessions to give feedback on how to improve services for others – these include the library consultation, feedback on health services and our own Brighton Streets evaluation.
She also helps out at the Crew Club and often supports community events in Whitehawk and is enthusiastic about giving support to her community where she can.
From TDC's Caroline Vitta
In 2018 Gaston was part of a group of local residents in Saltdean who noted the lack of youth provision in the area. After a lot of raising funds and collecting donated resources the Saltdean and Rottingdean Youth Club opened its doors in January 2019.
Since day 1, Gaston really has been the face of the youth club and the person who drives it forward. The youth club runs on a Friday evening and despite training and working full time to become a teacher, Gaston is there every week to open the doors, provide activities and give the young people that come a fun couple of hours out as well as making sure the club has funding to continue
Gaston is passionate about the youth club and the potential about looking at the opportunities that young people may have through attending. He is keen that the club runs on the ideas of young people and that they feel ownership of it. I think Gaston is a real Community Champion for the young people in Saltdean and the surrounding areas and that is why I am nominating him for a Community Champions Award
From TDC's Amy Allison
Emma lives in Mile Oak and during lock down noticed that the local primary school had started to run a food bank. The teachers were trying to run the food bank as well as their classes and were struggling to run it efficiently.
Emma volunteered and started giving out and delivering food parcels to 20+ families across Mile Oak and North Portslade. As well as getting a FareShare delivery Emma tried to supplement the food by adding food from Olio and other food banks that had surplus. Emma was aware that many families needed to access affordable food in Mile Oak (the nearest shopping areas are a bus ride/drive away) so she jumped at the chance to start BrightStore, an affordable food project, in Mile Oak.
Emma helped to recruit several other volunteers and has been the lead volunteer since BrightStore Mile Oak launched in June. There have been 60+ families that have accessed the project.
From TDC's Anke Thurm
Jane has been active in her community for years and years – running her local tenant and residents’ association in East Moulsecoomb, connecting her community members and neighbours with each other and working with local groups and services.
Since the start of the pandemic, she has gone from collecting donations for the local foodbank to starting a whole new food project with other local residents. She has really upped her involvement in the community to organise and help make Moulsecoomb Community Market one of the most successful, forward-thinking food projects in the area ensuring that more than 60 household have access to low cost food. She has also taken an interest in St George’s Hall, which thanks to her and her husband Andy, has gotten a new coat of paint, a nicer garden with repaired benches and an exciting and successful summer fair right after lockdown this summer to help bring people together again.
She has more plans for St George’s Hall and Moulsecoomb Community Market, ideas for connecting people and places and services and I am in awe of her energy, excitement and commitment to the community in Moulsecoomb. Jane is a force to be reckoned with!
From TDC's Tony Silesby
Marc has been an exceptional volunteer to the east Brighton neighbourhood for many, many years.
Initially working as an apprentice in Hawks community cafe, his friendly nature and desire to help his neighbours was clear. Marc went on to volunteer as a youth worker in the Crew Club and contributing to the community at every opportunity.
More recently Marc set up Whitehawk FC in order to provide local people the opportunity to play competitive football to improve their mental and physical health. He recognised that, although there are opportunities for children to play football, unless you have a particular talent there was little or no opportunity for anyone over 18, meaning they miss out on the benefits: team spirit, a sense of belonging and purpose that can be gained from football.
Marc and his then small group of volunteers renovated pitches, gained funding and set about giving people a chance regardless of ability. He was so successful that numbers of of people wishing to play became huge. True to his ethos of ‘football for all’ Marc committed even more time to run an additional drop-in session in addition to the training session and match days that he already ran).
This session sees up-to-date 30 people attending (both male and female) and welcomes even the newest players to the club.
Earlier this month, our MESH and Community Learning projects offered participants the chance to take Probarista training at One Church. MESH provides training and employment advice and opportunities to people from ethnically diverse backgrounds in Brighton and Hove, and this training was a great opportunity to learn a useful skill. In these classes, MESH Members learned from expert trainers the fine art of Barista Coffee Making.
They will be supported to find volunteering and paid work using their new skills.
The class was a great success with the 15 women who attended the two sessions, learning to make beautiful delicious coffee drinks, including espresso and lattes, foaming milk and creating those brilliant designs on the top of coffees that mark out a great barista.
We had great feedback from the women too, who all were able to get the most out of the class, with the support of TDC.
"I'm really enjoyed. Xavier is a good teacher and the partner too. Thank you for allowing me the course!"
"I enjoy it and understand it. The teacher was very good. We all learned a lot of things."
"It was great yes I understand it. The teacher really good because he is explaining everything to us. Everyone was good they all did a great job."
"I never thought making coffee could be that difficult. But we learning new skills. We enjoyed the session. Xavier was very nice and helpful. We worked in pairs and everything was easy and well explained. Thanks for organising these session where we get the opportunity to learn and meet new people."
"My probarista course is very good . Yes, I enjoy it. Yes, I understand it. Yes, the women work well together."
"Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity."
The Vision of the Project
Strengthen Albanians pride and belonging and build aspirations of our younger members.
Improve integration in Brighton & Hove community and remove barriers to accessing services
Reduce discrimination and improve understanding of Albanian culture in Brighton & Hove community.
From our Community Engagement Worker, Sonila Deda
In some ways it was good timing to join TDC during the pandemic. It meant I was able to reach many individuals and families and help their integration into British society at a time when many were struggling more than usual. It did of course mean many of our activities had to be flexible and change at short notice. Despite this we were able to reach 1000 people, many through online engagement. Especially on the Albanian's in Sussex Facebook Page.
Much of our signposting and engagement has needed to be online and we have started to share stories to inspire our younger members as well as lots of translated information about important services on our website.
We have managed several in person sports tasters, linking our young people with local cubs, including football and boxing. We have also offered women’s drop-ins enabling us to share advice on domestic violence services along with other family service information.
We even had a fantastic celebration for Albanian Independence Day with 200 people participating.
“We haven’t attended any Albanian events before and would definitely like to come to more. It was good to learn about my Husbands cultural heritage, well done for organising it, we loved every minute”
Working within TDC has enabled me to have access to many trusted services and partners, I now hope to go from strength to strength and build a Strong Independent Albanian Organisation for everyone!