Making More Happen Project
The Making More Happen project was started by Walthew House; was funded by the Visionary D&I Fund and a Catalyst grant from Action Together. Based on the belief, the key to reducing isolation, with its attendant physical and mental detrimental effects, is to provide, promote and support accessible opportunities for inclusion and involvement for people with sight loss in Stockport.
The main aims of the project were to;
- Work with existing volunteers and recruit new volunteers to establish and maintain new partnerships for the benefit of people with sight loss with other groups in the wider community, and to
- Facilitate greater involvement for visually impaired people in consultations regarding local health and social care so that the needs of people with sight loss will not be overlooked
The grant has supported the costs of a part-time development officer, who worked with people with sight loss, and the wider community.
The project has:
- Consulted both with existing visually impaired service users and people who do not access services at Walthew House, to identify how the charity can best facilitate wider participation
- Consulted with local people and organisations to explore opportunities for inclusion for people with sight loss
- Established, and with the support of existing and new volunteers, maintained new partnerships with other groups in the wider community
- Promoted and co-ordinated opportunities for involvement including establishing volunteer led consultation groups so that more people can work together for the changes they need
- Explored the need for further or ongoing support to maximise opportunities for participation in wider community and sporting activity and contributing to the development of social care and health service development.
The project engaged with over 250 people with sight loss including existing visually impaired service users and people who did not previously access services at Walthew House, to identify how the charity can best facilitate wider participation. Barriers to participation were explored and attempts made to address both the individual and collective issues that exacerbate isolation. A link with VI Bees (a social media based group), has increased participation with younger, working and working age adults.
Over 20 new links and partnerships were established with local art and sporting groups, charitable and philanthropic groups, the local council, schools and other organisations to maximise opportunities for participation with the wider community. The focus will now be to nurture these partnerships to maintain the momentum of the project.
Twelve established volunteers, including visually impaired volunteers and five new people have become engaged in new and additional opportunities, have gained confidence to contribute ideas and take the lead on activities, and are helping the project to gain momentum. Anecdotally, people report feeling more ‘connected’, and this is something further feedback will be collected on at the end of March when this phase of the project is completed. Feedback is particularly positive about the opportunities to consult on local and national social care and health services.
An unexpected, but welcome outcome was an unprecedented increase in integration between deaf and visually impaired people. It is generally felt that Making More Happen has enabled the charity to examine its offer to people with sight loss and has made a useful contribution to the support provided by Walthew House. However, there are clearly many people who have not engaged with the project, for reasons that are not fully understood and this remains an ongoing challenge to reducing isolation.