Charities and support services from across Dorset praised BCHA’s first Professionals Networking Event, hosted by Wareham Community Front Rooms on 23 August.
Charities and support services across Dorset have given their thumbs-up to BCHA’s first Professionals Networking Event, hosted by Wareham Community Front Rooms on 23 August.
The relaxed, friendly networking event saw around 12 organisations come together to boost their knowledge of each other’s operations, with representatives brainstorming ways to foster new channels of collaboration and bolster signposting opportunities between organisations across Dorset.
Senior Practitioner at Wareham Community Front Rooms, Jacob Greenall, described the event as a “resounding success that unlocked exciting prospects for organisations to work together, elevating the professional services landscape in Dorset”.
Jacob said: “The connections and collaborations that took place were meaningful and promising, while the energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable. The willingness to share expertise truly embodied the spirit of collaboration that we envisioned for our inaugural Professionals Networking Event.”
Charities and support organisations delivered excellent feedback on the event, and told how the informal, face-to-face event helped to strengthen partnerships.
Maisie McCauley, Triage Practitioner Team Leader at Dorset Mind, said the event helped with their mission to break the stigma about mental health.
Maisie said: “There are challenges across the board at present. People are experiencing anxiety and depression and many services are overrun. We’re still seeing a backlog from Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis is affecting mental health, too.
“As a result of this event, we’ve met teams from other services who will encourage people to reach out to us if they’re struggling, so we can work together to improve mental health. There is still a stigma attached to mental health that we’re determined to end – a belief that we don’t talk about it. Today has helped to spread the word that it’s okay to ask for help. There is no need to feel embarrassed and we all have times when we’re struggling.”
The BCHA-organised event proved valuable to Francine Hall, volunteer crew on MV Freedom, a Weymouth-based 10-metre catamaran that that takes people living with disabilities to sea so they can enjoy tours of the spectacular Jurassic coast.
Francine said: “The Professionals Networking Event has been fantastic – a brilliant networking opportunity. I’m now aware of five or six other organisations that, through my charity, I can direct people to who need support. They’re now aware of MV Freedom, and we’re meeting up with two of the agencies I met here next week for a publicity exercise.”
Simone Gosden is CEO of Acts Fast, which supports non-abusing parents, carers and adult family members of children who have suffered child sexual abuse. The charity also provides support for adult family members and partners of individuals who have accessed indecent images of children.
Speaking about the first networking event, Simone said: “It was useful to make links with other organisations and see if we can collaborate or create good referral pathways for our clients, while gaining a sense of what other people are experiencing within Dorset. Are there ways to collectively make our voice louder if, for example, we need more support from statutory services?”
The Homelessness Partnership BCP, a group of more than 40 charities and support services that have signed a charter committed to ‘ending homelessness in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’, threw its weight behind the first Professionals Networking Event. A display of the Partnership’s Let’s Talk Renting campaign showcased how private tenants in rent arrears or at risk of eviction can gain free, professional support.
Communications Lead Marc Rosenberg said: “When financial crisis strikes and the spectre of eviction looms, it can take a devastating toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“By promoting our Let’s Talk Renting campaign to charities and agencies at the event, services across the BCP area now know how to put private tenants in touch with our team of friendly advisors, who will act fast when a tenancy is at risk. This new face-to-face networking event embodied the spirit of multi-agency collaboration and helped the Partnership to spread the word about its work to prevent people from falling into homelessness during the cost-of-living crisis.”
Bethany White, Support Worker at BCHA’s Dorset Lodge and Lansdowne Gardens and a Bchangemakers Award Winner 2023, showcased her creativity and art therapy at the event.
Bethany’s inspirational murals play a key role in creating Psychologically Informed Environments across BCHA services, bringing an air of tranquillity to premises that deliver trauma-informed care.
One of Bethany’s latest murals, called ‘Light at the end of the tunnel’, takes pride of place in the warm space at Wareham Community Front Rooms, having been completed this year.
Bethany said: “The mural demonstrates that, by coming to a service like this when you’re in a dark place, there’s hope – and a way out. The mural introduces an element of tranquillity, bringing the outdoors inside and helping customers to reconnect with people and the natural environment that they might have isolated from.”
Bethany has completed six murals at BCHA services, including a Lemon Tree in the refurbished kitchen at Dorset Lodge. She added: “The Professionals Networking Event helped to spread the word about the beneficial effects of murals and to meet services external to BCHA that might be interested in having murals at their premises.”
To find out more about BCHA’s Community Front Rooms, please see our flyer.