MORE than 200 people have now signed up to be Community Connectors in East Sunderland.
The scheme was started a year ago by the City Council’s East Area Committee that includes the Doxford, Hendon, Millfield, Ryhope and St Michael’s wards.
Community Connectors can help people living in the East Area find out what is going on locally and how to get involved in social activities.
They can provide names, places and telephone numbers for activities, services and support.
Councillor Ellen Ball, a Ryhope councillor is Chair of the East Area, and said: “Connectors work with individuals, they work with groups, with organisations.
“They can help by sign-posting and, as the name suggests, making connections.”
•Provide information and advice about available support
•Help find activities
•Help people meet more people in the community
Cllr Ball said: “People in our communities and neighbourhoods are a wealth of knowledge. With all the pressures and changes to public services, connectors are a grassroots link in our communities.”
All volunteers need is an email address and a willingness to share information with other organisations, families and friends.
As a Connector you receive a weekly e-bulletin covering a wide range of topics including: things to do, health, training, jobs and other volunteering opportunities.
Connectors do not give out advice or guidance, they simply sign post people to the right organisation or service to get the help that they need. Volunteers are supported by the City Council with additional training,
The connectors are spread across the East Sunderland area with Community Connectors hubs established at five community venues, these are: The Box Youth Centre, Doxford; CHANCE, Hendon; St Mark’s Community Association, Millfield; Ryhope Community Association, Ryhope; St Nicholas Church, St Michael’s.
These hubs provide a physical presence directly in the heart of each community for residents and services to use. Each hub will be supporting and delivering activities which reduce social isolation, supporting people with disabilities and their carers, and allowing services to deliver outreach sessions, as well as providing community groups with meeting and networking opportunities.
Q: Who can be a Community Connector?
Anyone can be a Community Connector, as long as you live, volunteer or work in the East Area and are willing to give up a few hours a week.
Ideal candidates are those who already find that friends, family and neighbours often come to them for advice on where to go with particular issues or problems. It doesn’t matter if you are working, unemployed or a stay at home parent, as long as you are willing to share your knowledge by signposting others in the local community to local services you can become a Community Connector.
Q. Who are Community Connectors?
A. They are people who live, volunteer or work in the East Area.
Q. What do they do?
A. They raise awareness about things to do i.e. school holiday activities, and sign post people to the relevant agencies and services depending on the issues people are experiencing
Q. Where would I find one?
A. Attending an East Voluntary and Community Sector Area Network meeting or contacting your ward councillors.
Q. Will they give me advice?
A. Not on specific issues, their role is to sign post people on to others who have in-depth knowledge in particular areas.
Q. Why should I trust them?
A. They have undertaken training on confidentiality and on services that help people in all kinds of situations.
Paula Hunt, is a Ryhope Connector, she said: “I have lived in Ryhope for 32 years. I do like to help and I am aware that I do not have all the answers.
“But, I can help by sign posting people to others. The Community Connector role has given me even more contacts to signpost people too for help and support.”
Contact your ward councillor or firstname.lastname@example.org.