As we are again spending more and more time at home due to the new COVID-19 restrictions I am sure many of us are becoming more inactive. I know I am. There is always something to watch and it’s easy to put exercise off until tomorrow. But to borrow from Elvis Presley, often ‘tomorrow never comes’.
I try and remember that being active is good for my physical and mental wellbeing and I’ve found that setting aside a regular time to exercise has helped, although I appreciate that this is easier said than done. This applies to everyone, not just me – but it particularly applies to people who have pre-existing health conditions or who are older.
I’ve tried to encourage my mum (80) to do more exercise by reminding her that if she loses her strength now that she’ll never get it back. This is just one reason why we should all try to move regularly, including exercises to help stay strong and steady. As she was a Gymnastics instructor, who’s classes I was forced to attend for years, I know she loved bellowing at other people to tell them they we’re doing a move incorrectly: ‘Daniel, you’re not concentrating’, ‘point your toes’, ‘keep your eye on the ball’. That last one was more tennis in the back garden than Gymnastics, but I am sure you get the point. This means I now take some pleasure at taking my turn to dish out an order or two back to her to ‘do regular exercise’.
I wouldn’t order everyone around... However, a gentle reminder that we have three exercise at home classes (on Zoom) on offer each week that you could try and build into your routine is ok, I think? These are;
Egyptian dance for women – Tuesday, 2.30pm to 3.30pm
Yoga – Wednesday, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
Tai-Chi – Friday 11.30am to 12.30pm
Why not give one a try. Contact us on 0207 7607 9794 or firstname.lastname@example.org for joining details and technical support to help you access Zoom is available. Daniel
Starting tomorrow, Thursday 23rd July, we are holding a Mindfulness class in the Stress Project building every Thursday from 4pm to 5pm. This class will be facilitated by Ulanah.
Mindfulness is excellent at helping people to manage the stresses of everyday life and more specifically anxiety, depression, addictive or obsessive behaviours, chronic illness and pain. It a skill for life, so we’re delighted to be able offer this class during a time when many people have been experiencing new mental health issues.
We have put in place a variety of measures to ensure we can run the class safely. These include social distancing and new hand hygiene rules Everyone visiting the centre will be required to wear a face covering, so please make sure that you bring with you a scarf or face mask along with your own water bottle.
This is not a drop-in class, all participants must book their place in advance each week. To book a place please contact us on 020 7700 3938 or email email@example.com
1st June to 7th June marks Volunteers’ Week. Our volunteer’s are very special to us so we thought now would be a good time to celebrate our very own Wendy, who back in November 2019 won VAI’s (Voluntary Action Islington) Volunteer of the Year in the 60+ category for her work with the Stress Project.
Wendy has volunteered for the Stress Project for 12 years as a mental health champion, therapist and communications and PR officer. She brings a combination of skills in business & therapy and personal experience of disability and depression.
Wendy’s journey with the Stress Project goes back even further. At first she was a service user accessing courses of low-cost Acupuncture. This inspired Wendy to train as an Indian Head Massage and Massage therapist and become a volunteer with us at the weekly drop-in - and later as part of our outreach scheme at the Mayton Street festival, Manor Gardens, Centre 404 & at the Arsenal Foundation’s Inclusion days for disabled Children.
Wendy’s therapeutic approach is about ‘giving with an open ear’, and in her own words; “I get energy by sharing, and I love the feeling of making people feel better, you can see it in their face almost immediately.”
In 2013, she was funded for 6 months by Vodafone World of Difference - who donated to Holloway Neighbourhood Group the same amount as she was paid – to work in a part-time capacity to improve our referrer network. This is work she continues to this day, being a superb ambassador while representing us at various network meetings such as with The Finsbury Park Women’s network, encourage disadvantaged women to develop their own businesses and engage in training opportunities such as sewing and dressmaking.
Although dealing with her own health issues and managing pain and disability, she has always supported us. Commuting is becoming extremely difficult for her and she has done remarkably well over the years.We’ve benefited greatly from Wendy’s skill, knowledge and the links she has developed with partnership organisations within the community – the contribution is invaluable to us and also to her own physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Our volunteers are the backbone and heart of our organisation and Wendy is an exemplary example of this. We are all so proud of her achievements – the fact that she won the award doesn’t change that.Thank you Wendy and congratulations.
During these difficult and unknown times we all find ourselves in I have been somewhat frustrated.Due to my own long-term health conditions I was placed in the Government’s ‘shielded’ group, so I’ve been isolating and have not been out since the middle of March. The frustration was partly that I couldn’t register in the call out for NHS volunteers. However, I was able to help one person - an ex-neighbour and friend who is in her 80’s and sadly has serious chronic conditions.
I registered her with the Government’s & Islington Council’s schemes for vulnerable shielded people. Eventually, she started receiving a weekly parcel of dry and tinned food. However, it took a couple of weeks, and prior to that Islington Council put me in touch with a community group who could help.
At the community group, I spoke with a friendly sounding young lady, and explained my friend was very low on food. She managed to get, and safely deliver, all the food items we had agreed upon, with just one substitution.
A few weeks later, I asked her to get another few items - my friend needed some fresh veg and a couple of treats as was feeling very down. She again managed to get it all. When she rung me to say job done, she told me she had then gone to a nearby shop a second time as she thought that magazines would cheer up my friend. Could I call my friend and ask her to come down to her front door again as she had left a couple of them in ‘our delivery place’?
I am very grateful to this wonderful volunteer who was prepared to go to numerous places for the right things. She was already a star in my eyes, but to think of something extra, and then go and get magazines after delivering the food was an amazing act of kindness, which I will not forget. They certainly gave my friend a boost.
There really are some wonderful people in our community - one of the reasons I love Islington! Take care and hope to see you all soon.
Sometimes in life we get so caught up in our own thoughts that we forget that others may not see the same things we do or have the same beliefs and morals.This lockdown has shown me that we all deal with things differently, at different times and even if the world is going through something as a whole, we all react differently.
Because of this, instead of just assuming what someone may need or want it’s important to simply ask. When I get into conversations with people this week as part of our In-Touch service I will, of course, ask how they are and how they are coping. However, I will also ask what it is they think they need, or would like, to make things a bit brighter and to help them feel happier and more comfortable.
This is something I feel we all could do, it costs nothing. It will also give you an insight to someone else’s outlook on life and allow you to reflect on your own.
This week is also Creativity and Wellbeing Week and I am always inspired by the kindness and understanding shown by our wonderful Art for Wellbeing tutors James and Oriana, who encourage kindness and understanding between students and also remind students to remember to be kind to themselves. The result is that these classes have become safe places for anyone however experienced or inexperienced to safely explore their creativity in a supportive and positive environment.
One of the ways to be kind to yourself whilst being creative is to notice the positives of your act of creativity. So - maybe your self-portrait’s a bit of a monster at the moment but hey – you had fun making it and the eyes look really good!
My pledge this week is to make sure I print and post a copy of an old family photo that I know one of my elderly relatives would very much like to have.
Today, Monday 18th May, marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is Kindness. I’d like to take this chance to share an act of kindness I’ve experienced at HNG and make a pledge to do something kind for someone this week. To steal a line from someone else ‘every little helps’.
It was early in my time at HNG and it was a very hot day during July. The sun was beating though all the glass windows of the Old Fire Station’s reception, which I had been left to cover (we were short staffed at the time as one member of staff had ‘selfishly…’ broken their ankle). It was a very busy day with lots of people coming in and out of the Centre – and it also was the day when new phone lines, phones & broadband were being installed in the building.
At one specific moment an exercise class was about to start, so lots of people were asking me questions at the same time. The telephone engineer was waiting to talk to me – and the phone was ringing – also a volunteer was trying to ask me some questions. I slightly snapped at the volunteer and said something like, “I can’t deal with your question right now I’m having a very stressful time and it’s also my birthday”. The afternoon rolled on and it was much quieter. At some point the volunteer came back in clutching a brown coloured paper bag and handed it to me. The smell was divine – they had bought me a McDonalds. A cheese burger, fries and hot apple pie. It was an act of kindness that I’ll never forget and will always be grateful for.
For my pledge of kindness this week I am going to share a sewing project with a friend of mine I’ve not spoken to in ages. I know they like sewing and it will give me an excuse to check in with them and see that they’re safe and to (hopefully) get some advice for my project.
Some simple pledges can be found here if you feel like joining in.
We are delighted to announce that the London Community Foundation has given us a generous grant to extend our telephone and online services. The closure of Holloway Neighbourhood Group’s Old Fire Station and Stress Project centres 7 weeks ago, left us concerned about the wellbeing of our many centre users who rely on our services to meet up with friends, seek support and keep active. Since closing we have transformed many of our activities so that we can stay connected to the community either by telephone or online. The funding will enable us to grow these services to reach more people.
“In Touch” is our new telephone support service. Our volunteers regularly call people who have found themselves isolated by the lockdown. As well as having a friendly chat, we have supported people to download e-books, get practical support around the delivery of food, and recommended online exercise classes (we especially love the yoga class [click here for the class] delivered by our own tutor, Dunya). Our service is expanding rapidly, so do contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would either like to receive our calls or to volunteer to make the calls.
The grant from the London Community Foundation has also enabled us to expand our Stress Project counselling service, making it available to more people and to those on the very lowest incomes. During these challenging times, it is important that people can access support without long waiting lists. Once a health or social care professional has completed our referral form [here], we can book an assessment without delay. Our amazing counsellors are able to offer counselling either online or over the phone.
We can’t wait to be able to safely open our doors once again and welcome visitors at the Old Fire Station and Stress Project centres. But we also know that “In Touch” and our online counselling will be appreciated by some for many months to come.
Take care and stay safe, Lucy Bingham, HNG Chief Executive
We are delighted to announce the launch of our free 'Create in Your Space’ help to be creative at home art classes.
Create in your Space is the new phase of our Art for Wellbeing project and is focused on supporting you to be maintain wellbeing and creative while in lockdown.
We have one class each week:
Creative Writing: Hosted on Zoom with Oriana on the 1st & 3rd Thursday of each month at 1.30pm. Explorative Art: Creative activity guides sent direct to your email on the 2nd & 4th Thursday of each month with telephone support from James, the tutor.
We hope that as many people as possible can join in so please contact us on 0207 6079794 for information on how to join the classes.
We are grateful for the continued funding provided by Clarion Futures to put these classes on.
More information on the classes can be found here and don't forget to send us your work so we can put it in the online gallery. Antoinette