Community Outreach

Some of the projects that Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship are involved in are described below. Once the Tove Valley Centre is established, we expect to be able to offer more to the local community.

Fish and Chip Supper

Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship has a small but committed group of volunteers who offer a monthly Fish and Chip lunch delivery scheme to residents of two sheltered housing schemes in Towcester. Orders are taken in advance and placed with a local fish shop.  Volunteers then collect the order and deliver them to the residents. One group of residents prefer being together to eat their lunch in a communal area while the other group prefer eating alone.

Looking to the future…

In the past, the Baptist Church in Towcester has successfully run regular coffee mornings and monthly Luncheon Club both in Towcester and Weston. The Tove Valley Centre will enable us to re-establish these activities and to develop new groups for elderly and potentially isolated residents within and around Towcester.

Foodbank

Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship gives support to the local Food Bank through volunteering, donations, distribution and transporting food. In 2017 the Towcester Food Bank fed 1792 people compared to 1397 in 2016; an increase of over 20% in one year.

“Thank you for all the running around you do for the Foodbank. Often it is behind the scenes and no one else knows”  Towcester Foodbank

Looking to the future…

Once the Tove Valley Centre is established, we will be able to offer people using the Foodbank additional help and support via our drop-in support services. This will include being a listening ear to someone who is struggling to cope, sign posting to appropriate support services and providing practical help and support to access the services.

Renew 169 Wellbeing Café

The Renew 169 Wellbeing Café is located at 169 Watling Street, Towcester. At the moment it is open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2pm until 5pm.

“I get some relaxation time for myself socialising with other people who care and understand. It has given me somewhere to go on a regular basis and to make new friends and meet old ones. I am allowed to be who I am. If I’m low I feel better when I have been. Life becomes a better place and it gives my carer a breather.”

The Story So Far…..

The Renew Wellbeing model was established in 2015 by Ruth Rice in Nottingham as a not-for-profit venture to support anyone with mental health difficulties, after she experienced her own period of difficult mental health.  Information about the Café model was given to Laura Patterson, Youth, Children and Families Team Leader at Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship (TVBF) in Towcester.  Contact was made with Ruth who recommended a visit to the Renew Wellbeing Café in Northampton which works effectively to support people in the community who have mental health issues.

A visit was also made to the original Café in Nottingham, which runs a community space next to a commercial Café and has run successfully for three years.  Around twenty Cafés now operate under the same ‘franchise’ and more are being set up regularly.  Ours is the first successful joint church venture and the first to be run in collaboration with volunteers from the community.

The Café is run on an open access basis, for those of no faith or any faith.  There is a quiet space where ten minutes in every hour a short prayer or reflective time is offered on an optional basis for those that want to access it.  Ruth has been surprised how those who have no faith enjoy this space to relax.

MIND operate in Towcester 2 days per week at Chantry House.  In meeting with the facilitators, they are fully behind the idea of the Café and would like to co-refer their clients to us and vice versa.  They are pleased that there will be extra provision in the week for those that are struggling.

Local counselling services in Towcester are also keen to offer their support and were able to come on the Renew Wellbeing training.  They would like to offer optional short information sessions on depression, anxiety, self-harm etc.

The Alzheimer’s Society are very keen to partner with the Café to provide a weekly Dementia Café for carers and those with dementia.  A number of volunteers for the Café space have accessed Dementia Friends training and will work to make the Café a dementia friendly space all the time, not just for specific sessions.  A grant has already been awarded by South Northants Council (SNC) for work with older people in Towcester.

A meeting was held with the deputy head of Sponne, Towcester’s Secondary School, who is lead in pastoral care and Designated Safeguarding Lead.  She feels very positive about using the Café space for young people who are experiencing mental health issues.  The school would refer pupils on to a service provided by the Café in after school hours.  They would also consider using the space during the school day for group work.  Funding has already been granted by Northamptonshire Community Foundation for this specific work to take place.

A training session run by Ruth Rice on setting up a new Café, including issues such as safeguarding and how to run a session was attended by twenty volunteers, from across the churches and community in and around Towcester, including those of faith or no faith.

Discussions then took place with a local landlord to secure a suitable venue for the Café.  The landlord has kindly provided 169 Watling St as a rent-free space to be used and the keys were obtained on 19th October 2018.

Details of the project on the Towcester Community Page on Facebook were circulated resulting in several thousand people who are interested or have ‘liked’ the project.  There is considerable community interest.

From this, two professional painters have offered services and a sign writer has offered her services for free too.  Others in the community have donated furniture and offered to help clean and paint.  Whittlebury Hall have recently completed training in mental health to spot signs of difficulty in their staff and would like to get more involved in community projects.  They invited us to submit a ‘wish list’ which will either be supplied from the hotel or will be gifted to the charity.

The Town Council is being approached for start-up funding.

“We walk alone without someone to care…. but now I have found friends, a new family in a new place! Thank you all! Such a blessing – a safe place in a crazy world… wonderful people. SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME !”

What is the aim of the Café?

The Café model is based on the 5 ways to Wellbeing model below.

Being Present

Each renew space is run by a local church who give their time and share hobbies and skills in a homely welcoming space. The Renew Wellbeing team offer to be present alongside churches embarking on this journey. Ruth will meet with the leaders, the church and the mental health team to offer support while the renew space is established and will keep visiting to help sustain good practice.

Being in Partnership

As each Renew Space establishes good partnerships with statutory services so the Renew Wellbeing team offers to partner with each renew space by offering training, support and regular news. An annual gathering keeps links strong between Centres and helps us share good practice and resources. Renew Wellbeing also represents the renew movement in national conversations about faith communities partnering for better mental health provision.

Being Prayerful

As Each Renew space settles into a rhythm of quiet prayer and opens up these habits to their community so Renew Wellbeing will be praying for each renew space and with each renew space. Ruth will train and provide resources to each church where needed and the website will offer ongoing encouragement and advice for a shared journey of sustained prayerful habits for wellbeing.

Practical considerations

Renew 169 has applied for 100% reduction in business rates with SNC, 80% of which is applicable due to charitable status and 20% is discretionary.  There is also an application for change of usage from A1 to A3, although the space is completely non-profit and will not qualify as a Café business.  The landlord has provided the space for 3 months minimum and will extend if no commercial tenant is forthcoming.

Enhanced DBS checks are being organised for volunteers.

A Food Hygiene certificate will be issued for at least one volunteer per session.

Landlord’s Building Insurance and Public Liability Insurance are in place and a Health and Safety Assessment and Risk Assessment will be in operation prior to operation.

Looking to the future…

If the Renew Wellbeing 3-month pilot is successful, then it will continue to operate for six hours per week.  After that time the Dementia Café and after school sessions for vulnerable pupils who are experiencing difficult mental health will be offered.  There is great potential for the Café to be operating for longer hours, to have a kitchen installed and to be able to provide a greater range of food.  This would enable more community groups to use the space and would be an asset to many in Towcester in a prominent high street location.  The opportunities for the use of the Café as a community space are endless.

There’s support if it gets too much. Vicki is easy to talk to and my partner is happy to leave me knowing I will be ok. It is local to where I live, there is a friendly atmosphere. All ages are welcome and men too! It’s well run and a pleasure.”