Connecting through CAiR

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I recently had the great pleasure of meeting Chris Pollard, now living in Rye and someone who has visited the town throughout his working life. Chris is one of those people who once you have met him you feel you have known him for years, an experienced and very personable professional having travelled the world before taking retirement and now, dedicating his time, experience and many talents to helping others.

We met at the Hub on Rye Hill where he explained to me that one of the challenges being faced by many of our population of all ages, whether living in a town or a village, is the onset of loneliness. In a previous life where he was CEO of an educational charity, Romney Resource Centre (RRC) based on Romney Marsh, he became very aware of many of the daily challenges families and individuals face, there is a lack of available help and signposting to an organisation to receive help.

Caring Altogether on Romney Marsh (CARM), a wonderful charitable organisation, shared space in one of the neighbouring office units. Their focus is on providing a befriending service for the over 65s incorporating various other services including monthly meeting points and reminiscence meetings.

RRC and CARM were also successful in winning joint funding for three years from the National Lottery, for a project called Generations Connect – bringing the skills of the young and old together to help each other which is proving to be very successful.

Chris came to understand how CARM operated this much-needed service – staffed by trained volunteers throughout the Marsh and realised the service provides the opportunity to address so many daily challenges faced by the over 65s in addition to loneliness.

Chris was introduced to Brenda Baker, director at Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital who suggested he may like to consider setting up a befriending service, Chris then started talking to many local organisations in East Sussex and found the various conversations extremely informative, passionate and humbling with lots of advice and offers of help.

Alice Davey from Rother Voluntary Action (RVA) introduced Chris to CEO Claire Cordell and Jackie Saull-Hunt who immediately offered to support him to assist in getting this much-needed service up and running. A Making it Happen Small Sparks Grant was secured which enabled the cost of three consultation events to be covered and these are detailed at the foot of this article.

What is a befriending service?
It is a service managed by three or four key staff who oversee delivery by a team of trained volunteers to befriend clients either by face-to-face or by telephone at monthly meeting points and reminiscence meetings in and around our communities.

What has the service the potential to address?
The aim is to help to reduce loneliness and isolation by opening up opportunities and to identify potential problems by supporting access to additional services, for example shopping, benefits not being claimed, medical needs including podiatry, hairdressing, complementary therapies, nursing care at home and collection of prescriptions.

A further aim is to address digital poverty for those perhaps without broadband connectivity, access to a mobile phone or tablet and support on understanding them and how to use them.

The three consultation events will hear from our local communities with their views and thoughts on the benefits of this service – to be known as CAiR – Caring Altogether in Rother.

The first event is on Thursday, September 29 at the Tilling Green Community Centre, starting at 5:30pm but if you can’t make this then Camber Memorial Hall is the venue for the next event, same start time of 5:30pm and on Wednesday, October 5. Later that month on Thursday, October 13 the event is being hosted at the Hub on Rye Hill, once again starting at 5:30pm.

A Facebook page is being produced and if you want to get involved, either to find out what it’s all about or to share your ideas on potential services which you think would benefit your local community, then contact Chris Pollard via email at caringaltogethrinrother@gmail.com or by telephone on 01797 458832.

Image Credits: Chris Pollard .

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