Bring Me Sunshine is a community project for older people in Catford

Bring Me sunshine is co-ordinated by the Diamond Club and funded by the Neighbourhood community development partnership (NCDP) via public health Lewisham and the council and is supported by hours of volunteering. We are five churches who are partnering originally to bring events to older people around the Catford area, the churches are Holy Cross, St Andrews, Brownhill Baptist, Salvation Army and St Laurence’s.

The aim was to deliver at least 12 events for 100 older people spaced across the year but concentrating mainly on the summer period and based on the theme of Holidays at home. The events would provide hospitality, entertainment, signposting, reminiscence and exercise all in a vibrant colourful setting. All of our activities are dementia and age friendly.

When Covid-19 hit we acted immediately to respond to the most vulnerable isolated older people especially the 70% not able to access computers or smart phones.

We are currently delivering 110 activity bags with newsletters from the differing churches, a Bring Me sunshine magazine filled with puzzles, stories, personal anecdotes and poems and little treats donated from the community and a few companies such as Mcvities, Twining’s tea and Lucy Bee Soap and the highlight Catford Brew Tea bags. We send out another 100 Bring Me Sunshine Magazines by post to those living a bit further a field.

A team of volunteers from the churches and the community deliver on a Saturday and often have a chat with the people they are delivering to. Some have described this as the highlight of their week and the only human contact they have had.

60 older people are also called weekly as part of our telephone befriending, a valuable link sharing information and referring on to mutual aid organisations and exploring how people are feeling.

A series of 20 activity workshops have been completed and sent to care homes and individuals via either memory sticks or online through YouTube. These include, Tai Chi, yoga, African drumming and dancing, Meditation, concerts, talks, presentation on poetry and monologues. Most of these have been provided by volunteers and artists within the community.  

Lewisham Local have been a great support for people requiring aid and linking people to areas of assistance as well as keeping people informed of the community initiatives as well as age exchange who have shared some valuable resources.

As well as this through Holy Cross we offer a monthly mental health drop in space and have diverted our response by sending out positive messages and ideas about wellbeing to help minds and bodies to the 30 or so people who would usually attend.

We aim to expand our outreach by assisting people access digital means to share in the wide rich information available to them and are currently looking for funding to enable this to happen and to continue the work we are doing as funding will be up by the summer.

One of our ladies was so pleased when a volunteer trumpeter from our project played the last Post on VE day to local streets and older people she said “it was such a surprise when the knock came on my door and you stood there and played the last Post for me, I was completely blown away and old memories came rushing in, the Diamond Clubs acts of kindness will stay with me forever”.

As the name of the project suggests this is what we aim to do bring sunshine to Catford wherever we can through small acts of kindness and connections.

Currently working on developing our own website but connected to Holy Cross Catford website, Bring me sunshine Catford is on Facebook and Twitter @Lesley Allen.

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