On a cold November Friday what could be more nourishing than a chicken ramen? How about a chicken ramen cooked by children from an estate in Haringey, where it wasn’t just the flavours that mattered, but the connections, community, and sheer enjoyment?
The work that the National Academy for Social Prescribing do matters. But we only see just how much when we’re spending time with those people who are engaging in the activity and programmes. On a visit to Bridge Renewal Trust to hear more about what they are doing as part of as part of Thriving Communities Fund social prescribing project Thrive Haringey, Geoffrey Ocen, Chief Executive explained more about what they had been doing with their funding.
“The financial support from National Academy for Social Prescribing has enabled us to work with our delivery partners and marginalised communities to co-produce and deliver creative and practical ways to tackle health inequalities.”
But the highlight was a trip to the Community Hut on the Tiverton Estate, one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Haringey, to see what children from the estate were rustling up for dinner.
It was a delight to see the joy that young people from primary and secondary schools in the area got from spending time together, having conversations, and building skills by cooking a delicious meal. The chatter bounced, multiple languages ricocheted around the room, and everyone was engaged and enjoying their time together. The meal was designed to be low cost and simple, so that it doesn’t live as something to be consumed as a one off, but is part of the menu at home on a regular basis.
It’s been challenging for project delivery partners Bridge Renewal Trust. Covid-19, budgets, and overstretched link workers have made it hard to reach and engage with the people who want them. The communities they work with are often hard to engage with, due to language barriers, finances, and social deprivation. In early lockdown they did a project to support home schooling by providing laptops – participation increased from 4% to 98%! It’s not that the children didn’t want to learn, they just didn’t have the resources. Recognising these challenges and developing innovative solutions to address them is at the heart of their work. It’s about finding what works for and matters to the individual people they support.
The £50,000 Bridge Renewal Trust received from Thriving Communities Fund has been used to develop a rich programme of activities across the pillars of arts, culture, heritage, financial wellbeing, physical activity and green spaces and nature. A bold and ambitious plan has stretched them, but to great success, and the strategy they have developed now underpins their future activity.
They are running projects themselves and acting as seed funders for existing projects and groups who already have relationships with harder to reach communities. By building rich networks, they are able to engage with people in a way that best suits them.
NASP exists to help people live the best lives they can. It’s people like the Bridge Renewal Trust who make it happen.