Local wellbeing organisation Healthy Me Healthy Communities are showcasing their latest project in an online film launch today, and are asking communities across Manchester to share their ideas on what community action could be taken next. Access to the full film available via this article.
Healthy Me Healthy Communities, a Manchester based social enterprise, are today sharing the outcomes of their project Collective Effect. The project’s work, which covers the last 18 months, is documented in a video released today, in partnership with Greater Manchester initiative Ambition for Ageing.
The film showcases work done by volunteers from Hulme, Wythenshawe and Rusholme, following them on their journey from the development through to the creation of three community enterprises in their local areas. Over the course of the project, the three teams set up a community grocer, a charity shop and a community café, while working to increase active citizenship and tackle social isolation in people over the age of 50.
Ambition for Ageing is a Greater Manchester wide programme aimed at “creating more age-friendly places and empowering people to live fulfilling lives as they age.” Healthy Me Healthy Communities is a social-enterprise formed in 2012 which seeks to “enable people to improve their own and communities’ life expectancy and quality of life by reducing health and life inequalities, resulting in health and social-care savings.”
Healthy Me Healthy Communities’s project coordinator, Karla Bleakley, said “the reason we’re launching this film online is mainly so we can do something positive with the people we work with, to represent the communities and the amazing work that they’ve done. We’re also using it as a way to start communicating more with our members online because we’re not able to be people facing at the moment.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Healthy Me Healthy Communities had to cancel the film screening that would have taken place in Hulme and are instead holding it online. They hope that seeing the stories of the volunteers will start a dialogue with other community members, to get them to think about what they might want to make happen where they live, both during and after lockdown.
Speaking in the video, one of the volunteers from Rusholme named Sammy said, “The volunteers have been surprised at what help you can get, especially when you’re doing things in your community.”
Healthy Me Healthy Communities’s usual activities include cooking classes, social events and their Community Grocers, a redistribution scheme for surplus food and household items that would otherwise go to waste. Since the Covid-19 crisis hit, Healthy Me Healthy Communities have had to adapt the way they work and have been focusing on information sharing, signposting, and making contact with their members via phone calls.
Since the beginning of lockdown, they have made 254 phone calls to their members and have been working in partnership with the Manchester University Student Union’s befriending scheme to enable 73 members who want regular phone calls to get them during the pandemic.
Healthy Me Healthy Communities have also been providing people with ‘grab and go’ bags from their wellbeing cafe in Harpurhey.
“We work so closely with our communities that we want to keep in touch with them and help them continue to access the support they need,” explained Karla. “Although we can’t come together our ideas can. We hope it inspires people to think about new ways we can work together, today and in the future. “