Hello from Vicky at Mearns Kirk Helping Hands.
As it’s been a while since we’ve given an update of what is happening at Helping Hands, I’d like to start by introducing Liz Highet.
Liz joined the team on a part time basis in November 2020, to help us get our Befriending Project off the ground. In January 2022 she became a full-time member of the staff team, still mainly focusing on befriending, but you will see her around the halls. Liz joins me and Laura, our Volunteer Coordinator to make up the Mearns Kirk Helping Hands (MKHH) staff team. Welcome, Liz
Our Board of Trustees has also grown with the addition of Graeme Bell in November 2021. Graeme has been volunteering with the Lunch Club for People Living with Dementia for a number of years and has always taken a keen interest in the wider charity. We are delighted to welcome Graeme to the Board.
Most of our groups and activities have been back up and running on a face-to-face basis since July 2021 (with a short pause over the Christmas period due to omicron).
The Eastwood Bereavement Support Group, Lunch Club for People Living with Dementia, Blether and Brew, Men’s Breakfast Club and tai chi classes all restarted thanks to the hard work and commitment of all the volunteers involved.
Our Sporting Memories group restarted in September 2021. A new activity, Strength and Balance Classes, is proving to be very popular.
The Befriending Project continues to provide one to one companionship for people aged 65 and over experiencing loneliness and isolation. The Men’s Breakfast Club is now running every week again, as we successfully recruited some new volunteers to help in the kitchen.
And finally, the Friendship Club has recently restarted. At present the Club is only open to existing members but it has been lovely to see some of our friends again. As you can see, MKHH has been very busy!
The last few years have been a period of challenges and changes for MKHH, as for many charities. While lots of covid specific funding has been made available, it has been more challenging than ever to secure the core funding charities need to carry out their day-to-day activities.
However, I am pleased to say that MKHH has “weathered the storm”, with core funding in place for 2022 from the National Lottery, the Volunteer Support Fund, The Bank of Scotland and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund.
Delivery of our activities has been not without its challenges, but there have been some excellent learning opportunities too. For example, our tai chi group, having initially moved online during lockdown, now operates on a hybrid model. This means participants can join either face to face or online, giving options for those who may not be able to travel to the venue or who feel safer at home. Without the challenge of lockdown, we would never have recognised the potential to deliver our activities in this way.
Similarly, delivery of our face-to-face activities has been a learning curve for all involved. Our group leaders and volunteers have been committed to finding safe and comfortable ways of continuing meetings and activities, and good attendance figures show that this is working. The work involved in making this happen cannot be underestimated, and we give our thanks and gratitude to all of our volunteers and group leaders for what they have achieved in sometimes very difficult circumstances.
Over the last few months, we have been inundated with referrals and enquiries for people who have had a very difficult time over the periods of lockdown. People who have experienced bereavement, spent a lot of time alone, or found caring for a loved one very challenging. As a
charity, MKHH is committed to reducing loneliness and isolation and improving health and wellbeing. We have supported our community throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to do so, listening and responding to what our community tells us they need.
A quick word of thanks to Liz and Laura for all their hard work over the last year. It has not always been easy, particularly for Liz who joined us while we were mainly working from home. It has been good to be able to start working together face to face as a team.
I have included a “What’s On” at MKHH for March and April. We are also always very happy to hear from anyone who might be interested in joining our team of volunteers. We have lots of different opportunities, so if you can give even an hour a week please do get in touch for a chat!