From there to here . . . .

MapAs part of our development we’ve had a look at where our service users come from, the journeys they’ve taken, the churches that we have links with, and the partner organisations that we work with.

 

All of us who took part in the exercise found it encouraging, challenging and really quite amazing to see that so many from all over the world have come from there to here, and found a welcome in The Well.

 

 

Lunch time

imgres-1Ever since I’ve been involved with The Well we’ve never closed for lunch.  It was often quiet enough for folks to have their lunch together, have a blether and change shifts.

I remember those days!

In recent years The Well has become so busy that there times the volunteers never see each other, perhaps the morning staff work well into the afternoon, and some have been seen sitting down for something to eat at 2.00  or even later.

We’ve all just got used to this way of working, but since The Well is about community and fellowship for the whole team, we’re going to try things differently for the next few weeks!

From today we will close at 12:30, the afternoon folks will come and join us for our prayer time and have lunch together for those who want.  Initially this will be just for 1/2 hour, but who knows we might love it so much that we need to have longer.

Hopefully our service users will also benefit from a staff team who are more refreshed!

 

Partnership and Communication Worker

penny-sarahA few weeks ago I got a message from a friend that I’ve known for many years.  Sarah enquired about The Well and how things were going.  She has a marketing background, and as we talked the idea of Sarah working alongside Penny became a possibility which then became a reality two weeks later!

We’re delighted that Sarah has joined our team – 7 hours a week.  She brings additional expertise and enthusiasm to team, and we are thrilled that she wants to use her God given gifts and be a part of what He is doing in and through The Well.

Sarah has come in on Monday evenings, so she can experience first hand the work that goes on here.  She was thrilled on her first Monday to be able to tell one of our service users that he was due a tax rebate of over £200! Nice way to start:)

Sarah spent part of her childhood in Thailand, where her parents were missionaries & she brings an understanding of cross-cultural relationships with her.  She is married with two young children.

Every so often I have reason to reflect on the great bunch of volunteers we have here – this morning Joyce popped in.  I said “Are you Jaan today?”  She said “No, I’m just dropping this file in.”  She had taken someone’s file away to put together a summary of his case for him to take to his MP.  The summary has run to 5 pages of bullet points!  It must have taken her hours and I’ve no doubt that Mr Waheed will be be very grateful.  I know that several of our volunteers have done such things for people in the past, regularly going the second mile – determined to follow up and do their best for folks.  Well done team!

 

 

“I’ve got you . . .”

Last week I received a phone call, I instantly knew the voice, but I couldn’t name the person. She asked if she could come into see us, she needed some advice.  I asked what sort of advice, and she said “Personal”.  I told her our opening times, and suggested she ask for me – Rhoda.  She said “Oh Rhoda, thank God you are still there, you helped me 12 years ago!”

When she did  get in to see me we had a lot of catching up to do, her family has grown, her faith is much more important to her, she’s been busy!

She listed the huge support network that others have, and then in the next breath said “and I’ve got you”!  I laughed – not sure whether I’d just been complimented or insulted! She realised how it sounded, and immediately reassured me that it was a compliment, and having The Well was the best support possible!

But isn’t it great?! That after 12 years she knew where to turn to get help. That because we are still here she could say “I’ve got you” and know it to be true.

 

Everything changes . . . everything stays the same

The Well is always changing and adapting to the needs and challenges of our service users.  We’ve seen a change in the demographics of Govanhill, and this has been reflected in the folks who come to The Well.  When I first started as a volunteeGovanhill Collager back in 1998(!) the majority of our service users came from Pakistan – about 85%!  As Mary says now “the whole world is here.”

Up until early this year we had a growing number of Roma service users, but since I came back from my sabbatical, I’ve noticed a marked decline in the number of Roma using The Well.  Many have moved either to other parts of the UK (Doncaster!) or back to Slovakia.  Last week one of our regulars was telling me that he and his family are moving back – having known them for  more than10 years, I felt sad – but glad to know that we had made a difference to them, and they were keen to come and say goodbye.

In the early days of The Well we could keep a range of beneimagesfit forms in stock in The Well, now much of our work is done online and we no longer even keep forms, indeed we regularly have to ask people to go the library to have the form printed off. (91 pages for an EEA form, 4 times a day would be way beyond our printing budget!)

We still operate a drop in service, but are now piloting restricting visits to 1 hour (where possible) both for the sake of the other service users, and for the well being of the volunteer staff.

We’re still really busy! 4 people working on advice this morning and there’s a queue of 8 people!

We’re still supporting some very vulnerable people, a young single dad who has found the whole system of claiming child benefit and child tax credits quite overwhelming; a young woman with many physical, mental and emotional difficulties who on finding The Well, said she had found “Angels.”  Last week it was wonderful that a woman we had supported for at least 15 years, came back to visit us. (She lives quite far from The Well now)

We’re still dependent on individuals and churches supporting us – we have applied to various charitable trusts, but the core of our support comes from dedicated individuals & churches. Maybe you would like to support The Well, but you’ve never been in a position to do so? Well now if you shop online, then it is possible to support imagesThe Well through Give as you live. Simply register with Give as you live, nominate The Well as your chosen charity, and then go shopping from there.  You’ll see we can profit anything from 1% of your total shop.

Of course Give Net is another option to give directly to The Well!

Most importantly of all we know that the same God who was in our beginnings, is with us still and He doesn’t change.    “For I, the Lord, do not change.”  Malachi 3:6

 

In and Out of The Well

The other day Mrs Ahmed was in The Well (almost a daily occurrence!) She was in very good form – which we were all very pleased to see – for a few months, she seemed to be carrying extra burdens, which now seem to be lifted.

Ms Benocova came in – she’s been coming regularly for several years now, each of the staff got a hug from her, and then she turned and hugged Mrs Ahmed! I was so chuffed! A Pakistani and Slovakian woman giving each other a hug.  If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I’m not sure I would have believed it.  It really was a very special moment, and all the years of working at building relationships not just between the staff and our service users, but trying to provide an environment where those from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures could get to know each other was finally paying off!

At our prayer time this morning  Sarah prayed for an Afghan man that she had helped last week, and Vivien mentioned “last week when I took Mrs Ahktar home . . .”  I was reminded of the privilege that is ours to pray for by name people from all over the world. Dougie went further and said he loved being able to call people from so many parts of the world “friend”.    It also made me grateful for the volunteer staff that give so much to The Well, and its service users.  Not just the shifts they do, but regularly going the second mile for their new friends. Volunteer staff who give people lifts, or make home visits, or follow up with phone calls, or email me to ask about how someone is.

As ever we are looking for more people to join our Volunteer Staff team. Would you consider it? Sometimes when people first start, they feel a bit daunted – but with support and training they quickly realise that being in The Well gives them back so much more than they could ever imagine. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.

I really admire Gail for being willing to give the fundraising role a go, but Gail found that filling in application forms was just not for her – we’re delighted that we will continue to benefit from Gail’s commitment and many talents as she continues on the volunteer staff team.

We are now looking at building a team of people to do the fundraising – both grant applications, followup and other fundraising activities.  Maybe this is a way you could help us?

I’m in the process of registering The Well with “Give as you live” – I’ll let you know as soon as it’s live, an easy to support The Well if you do online shopping.

 

 

Chai & Chat

The Well Craft Group has been a fixture for many a year.  This group for women only – sorry guys – has seen us have much fun together, as well as produce some lovely items for both personal use and selling over the years. Some women come to use the sewing machineswhile others prefer to learn some new craft activity.  I felt very honoured to help one friend as she made clothes for herself and her family who were going on Hajj one year!!

Last month we decided to make a little bit of a change – and to rename the group  Chai & Chat.  ‘Chai’ is tea as far as our  South Asian, some Middle Eastern and our Slovak friends are concerned and is a seriously important component to socialising and relationship building. We are told regularly  it’s the chance to get to know women from different parts of the world and different faith backgrounds that make this get together on a Tuesday afternoons (1-2.45pm) so enjoyable.

The group is open to any woman, from any background. We nearly always have cake  🙂 and a craft activity of some sort to enjoy together. Please join us!

chai-and-chat_web (1)

Stonelaw Church Coffee Morning 7th May – An Invitation

We are delighted that the National Mission Team at Stonelaw Church (stonelawchurch.org) are hosting a Coffee Morning  in support of The Well this coming Saturday 7th May.  We’re looking forward to meeting some old friends – as well as making some  new ones!! This is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest from The Well and meet some of the team who will be there on the morning!

Where: Stonelaw Church,  2 Dryburgh Avenue,  Rutherglen,               G73 3EG

When: Saturday 7th May 2016, 10.30am-12.30pm

 

Two are better than one

I’m sitting here feeling quite chuffed with myself because I have actually manged to access this blog page without having to ask anyone for help!!

However, at least part of the reason I am sitting here typing away this particular afternoon is that I know  my colleague, Gail is around and I can ask  her for help if I need it. (She’s clever with IT, computers and stuff like that!!)

Throughout today well over 30 other individuals have come into The Well knowing that help and support is available for them too.

There’s the woman who is  looking for her own place to stay now that a firm job offer has been made. She makes good use of the   computer suite as she would not be able to access the internet easily otherwise. She accepts a cup of tea happily when offered, and then gets back to work on the computer.

A family want to clarify a couple of things on a form they need to complete. It’s a large document and lots of jargon needs to be deciphered. Their limited English means they are finding it a struggle. We are able to phone someone we know who can translate for us which makes all the difference.

Yesterday afternoon a few of us got together over some samosa and tea.  We had a useful discussion around how we might develop the women’s Craft Group. ( More about that soon!) Suffice it to say that over the following couple of hours craft activities for the next few weeks had been sorted – thanks Heather and Jan –  and Gail had come up with a beautiful new design for an invitation postcard we will use as invitations  to the group.

It’s great when you know there’s someone or somewhere that you can turn to and find genuine support –  and it’s the commitment of each of the Well team, combined with a diverse range of knowledge, skills and experience that makes so much of what we do on a day to day basis possible.

One of the Wisdom books put it so well:

    Two are better than one,
     because they have a good return for their labour:
      If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.