Richard Bellis, Head of Genesis Connect, talks about the organisation's work across six London boroughs to train volunteer wellbeing mentors
Genesis is a social housing provider. We have 100,000 residents in 33,000 properties across London, East Anglia and the South East.
We have been operating for over 50 years - since 1965 - when Paddington Churches Housing Association was first formed in response to a serious housing crisis in London.
We provide affordable housing for residents and work with our customers to ensure they have a safe and secure place to call home, in addition to high-quality services that suit their diverse needs.
One of our core commitments is the wellbeing of our residents
Our corporate strategy uses the term ‘more than bricks and mortar’ and it’s with this commitment at the forefront of our minds that we aim to do more than simply build new homes. We have an all systems approach to communities and community cohesion as well.
A major commitment we make in our corporate strategy is around improving wellbeing in the communities we serve. One of the key ways we’re working to achieve this is through delivering services and supporting residents in areas including employment, volunteering, well-being projects and wider social and economic regeneration.
Through running our volunteer programme, we identified that we wanted to do more to involve older residents and to meet the needs of customers with mental health support needs.
The Give More Get More Fund was the perfect opportunity to bring together volunteers who could create social impact through helping older people get involved, while also reducing social isolation. It was also the perfect opportunity to bring this work to scale.
As businesses for social purpose, the housing associations involved run comprehensive community investment programmes. For some older people, isolation is a problem - particularly for those with mental health support needs. We also know that employment levels for over 50s are increasing.
Under the Give More Get More Fund, we are going to work across six London boroughs - Barnet, Westminster, Brent, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney. We will be working to recruit and train 100 volunteer wellbeing mentors aged over 50 to work with 100 people aged over 50 with mild to moderate mental health support needs.
There is a lot of concern around fragmentation of communities at the moment, but actually, what we see from the volunteers that work with us, is that they are absolutely brilliant ambassadors for their communities.
On a day to day basis, people are volunteering, people are getting jobs, people are sustaining their tenancies and making a difference in their communities. I feel really upbeat about that.
We know that this programme is going to present challenges, but we are working from a very solid foundation. We have been running volunteering in Genesis for five years now and we’ve had some great success stories.
Ideally, what we want is for the people receiving support to feel more included in society, but we also have hopes for the wellbeing of our volunteers - whether it's gaining employment, or training in their chosen field.
To find out more, contact [email protected]
Photo Credit: Genesis Housing Association