2015 was a busy year for BAB’s team of Community Researchers; a group of volunteers working with BAB’s evaluation team at the University of the West of England (UWE). The majority of their efforts were put to creating an asset map of the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership area, working in teams by ward to identify the community strengths relevant to older people at risk of isolation and loneliness. The findings from this piece of work will be of great benefit to signposting organisations such as Well Aware, as well as to BAB partners working in the area or who work with Fishponds residents.
The Researchers hit the streets of Eastville, Hillfields and Frome Vale, interviewing 65 organisations and individuals about what they have to offer older residents. Well-known VCS organisations such as The Care Forum, Contact the Elderly and Carers’ Support Centre were mapped, as were some more ‘hidden’ groups doing valuable work such as a Repair Café in Eastville (where residents can bring electrical items or clothes for repairs and learn how to use new items such as phones); a local café whose staff take time to chat to people with limited social contact and put on social events; a ballroom dancing class whose youngest member is in her 50s; and an organisation proving advice and information to the Bangladeshi community. The Researchers also held a focus group in a local community centre which gave them the chance to speak to older local residents about the places, people and services that make a difference to them.
The list of organisations and their contact details has been made available to Well Aware, and is also available to the public via the easy to navigate Google Map (see here) and an in-depth report which discusses the methodology, process and lessons learnt as well as background information about each of the three wards to put the assets in context. One of the Community Researchers, Penny Beynon, said of the experience:
"The concept of asset mapping was new to all the volunteer community researchers and as none of us were very familiar with Greater Fishponds, so we embarked on this researc project with some trepidation! We enjoyed the experience of finding out about the wide range of 70 or so services and amenities that exist for - and are often run by - local residents. Equally interesting - and we think of equal importance - was discovering what residents feel are some of the reasons for isolation and loneliness among older people and what they think needs to be done to overcome them."
In 2016, the Researchers have been bolstered by a further 7 volunteers joining the group and are working on several projects that will audit BAB’s commissioning and evaluation processes to ensure effectiveness and transparency, and assess the impact BAB-commissioned services are having on isolation and loneliness.
Below there are links to a digital version of the map as well as the report:
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