In the hi-tech age we live in, it’s never been easier to keep in contact with people. Most of us have a mobile phone and the many social media sites there are mean we can pretty much find out what our friends and family are doing at any time.
But, sadly, there are many Doncaster people who still feel socially isolated and excluded from the rest of society to the point that it is affecting their emotional well-being and mental health.
That’s why I was delighted to learn of a Doncaster woman’s success in turning her own life round with the help of a community ‘peer support’ project our clinical commissioning group is jointly funding with Doncaster Council.
Eighteen months ago Lyn Bailey was shy, lacking in confidence and struggling to make ends meet.
But now, after benefiting from support from an Intake-based community group, the married mum of four is now helping others overcome the same social problems she used to have.
She now travels around the borough as a volunteer, teaching crochet and knitting to community groups as part of peer support teaching project run by the People Focussed Group (PFG).
Desperation brought Lyn, 46, from Highfields, to the PFG’s Intake-based Wellness Centre. She has a sight and hearing disability and an autistic son and couldn’t pay the bills. She was relying on handouts and food banks and was pretty much at the end of her tether.
Lyn felt like the world was against her and went to PFG because, quite simply, she didn’t know of anywhere else to go. There she received the kindness and support that helped build up her self-confidence.
Now she’s a far cry from the introverted person she used to be and volunteers up to seven days a week. She enjoys passing on her craft skills to others and it’s pretty clear that she couldn’t have dreamed about doing that 18 months ago.
PFG’s role is to teach groups and organisations how to provide peer support. In a sense, they are really teaching people to help those who feel they have no hope.
So Lyn is a great success story. She has developed great problem solving skills and has become more outgoing to the point that she is now able to teach others.
Doncaster’s communities, particularly the former mining ones, were renowned for supporting each other, but we have lost some of that spirit over the years. Hopefully this ‘people helping people’ project is helping to bring it back.