Monday, 21 September 2015

Time Out Volunteer Blog by Jon Rorke

I was introduced to Healthy Valleys through friends last year at a point in my life where things had begun to stagnate, I was unhappy at work and dissatisfied with life in general unsure of the paths I had taken. Through Healthy Valleys I found a community of youngsters and volunteers who worked together to provide a blanket of support to all those who needed it. I doubt I am alone in thinking that volunteers also gain much from helping these kids, it is a very rewarding and often cathartic process. I have had several occasions where teens have approached me personally to thank me and let me know how much I have helped them on that evening; the emotions one gains from hearing something of the like is indescribably positive. I would recommend anyone thinking of volunteering at least give it a try, I am certainly glad I did

Jon Rorke, Time Out Volunteer

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Love for Time Out

I’m Wendy, the Young Persons Development Worker and I run the Time Out project.
So what is Time Out and why do I love my job?

Time Out is a safe and supportive environment for young people  
  • to feel free to talk about their feelings (or not)
  • to feel accepted and understood
  • to not be judged
  • to build their confidence and self esteem
  • to learn coping skills for better health and well being
  • to be themselves

It’s not rocket science
  • It’s listening
  • It’s caring
  • It’s people helping people
  • It’s community

I love that:
  • young people come to Time Out and meet other young people who become their best friends
  • volunteers come to Time Out and benefit as much if not more than the young people
  • the young people and volunteers care so much about the project and are able to challenge, shape and change it.
  • we have funders who believe in us

What’s not to love about all that?


Friday, 24 April 2015

Pamela McGlone, Student Placement with Healthy Valleys

Hi I'm Pamela and I am a student at South Lanarkshire College doing my SVQ 3 Social Services and Healthcare placement with Healthy Valleys. Although I had heard of Healthy Valleys I didn't know the extent of the work they did until I started my placement with them and can I tell you – THEY DO LOADS!!!!

I was very apprehensive about starting my placement – who doesn't find something new daunting?!? – but it turns out the staff are actually a friendly bunch who quickly put me at ease. I can’t thank them enough for all the questions they have answered and the help they have given to me. But it’s not just the staff – the volunteers and service users play a major role in the work Healthy Valleys does and like the staff team they have been very welcoming. I look back now and wonder why I was so nervous in the first place.

Although I have been able to experience a lot of the different activities and courses that Health Valleys have to offer I have to say that the Rural Café based in Lanark has been my favourite. It was set up from funding received from the Tackling Poverty Fund and its aim is to provide a hot meal every week to adults/families who are struggling financially. Those who attend the café do so by referral and receive a warm welcome from staff/volunteers along with a lovely bowl of soup and another to take home. It is a safe and confidential place where people can share their hopes or worries or simply just come and sit without saying anything. It allows service users the opportunity to gain information which may be of benefit to them and to be signed posted to other agencies that can offer help and support. Those attending the café have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and say that it gives them something to look forward to as well as ensuring they always have a hot meal. I think the reason I have enjoyed it so much is firstly because it turns out that I actually quite like cooking (although still can’t follow a recipe) but mainly because I have had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with some lovely people from different backgrounds in different situations and watch them grow as the weeks have gone by.

Healthy Valleys is a great organisation doing fantastic work for the rural communities. It has an outstanding team of staff and volunteers and I am grateful to each and every one of them for their guidance and support since I started my placement.

Keep up the excellent work everyone as it is making a difference to people’s lives J

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Simone, Food & Health Worker

Hi. I am Simone and work as Community Food and Health Assistant at Healthy Valleys. Community Food and Health is our healthy eating and physical activity programme for children, young people, adults and older people. There's never a dull moment in my day – always something new to do, people to meet, ideas to share as well as spend time helping communities to learn about ways to eat a healthier diet, keep fit and improve their overall health & wellbeing.

There is great enthusiasm about both the physical activity and healthy eating programme, whether it be from participants, partners or the volunteers that either lead or support the activities. Participants have been taking part in the ongoing C’mon Dancin at Coalburn One Stop Stop, bowling in Blackwood Sports Centre, swimming at Coalburn Leisure Centre, walking in and around Lesmahagow & South Lanarkshire (weekly or once a month).

The Healthy Eating project has been busy too delivering Feeding the Family courses, REHIS Cooking Skills Courses, REHIS Food Hygiene and Food and Health courses. Participants have cooked tasty, healthy dishes and increased their knowledge of food and nutrition. Volunteers have enjoyed sharing their knowledge and experience with participants (always with a smile). We have also delivered some Clydesdale Community Family Fun 'n' Food sessions in various villages around rural South Lanarkshire. These sessions provide a opportunity for parents and children (under 5 yrs) to learn more about healthy eating and teaching life skills through play activities. We have completed an evaluation of our Healthy Eating programme and I am looking forward to some exciting new future developments.

These are just some of the things me and a team of fantastic volunteers (whose help I truly value and appreciate) have been up to lately. To find out about activities please go to the “What’s On” section of our website or for more information on the Community Food & Health project, please call me on 01555 880666 or email


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mary Hastings, Community Health Navigator

Hi, I'm Mary, Community Health Navigator for the Out and About Project and I’ve been in post for just over a year now.  Yes it’s a BIG title.  Essentially, it’s about helping people living with long term conditions who are feeling isolated to get out and about more and enjoy themselves.

I was the new girl until fairly recently and must thank everyone within Healthy Valleys for their patience with me and the never ending questions I asked.  Now that I am no longer the new person, I hope that I can now return the favour.

What I really enjoy about this job is getting out and about, meeting new people and hearing their stories.  It's about getting to know the person, finding out what they like doing or discovering something new for them to enjoy. 

Out & About is a small project that makes a big impact on people’s lives. There is nothing better than seeing someone grow in confidence and having fun. Some people have rekindled old hobbies and others have tried new activities but no matter what they have done, they have all gained new friends, feel more confident and no longer feel alone.

Despite having lived in South Lanarkshire all of my life, I really had no idea of what was going on around me.  Whether it’s a village or a town there’s a whole host of activities to be found.  So no matter what the person’s interest, there’s always something that I can find for them.   It's also given me lots of ideas for new hobbies - if only I had the time!

If you know of anyone who would benefit from this project or you would like to help please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Fiona, Development Worker, Re-Connect

How would you like to go for a month without seeing anyone? How would you feel? Isolated? Depressed? Lonely?

I in 10 people aged 65 and over say they are always lonely or feel lonely…. (Age UK)

Healthy Valleys in partnership with Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust have been delivering a project called Re-Connect South Lanarkshire, which is a volunteer led service aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness in older people by supporting them to connect with their communities.

The project was developed to meet local need in recognition that social isolation and loneliness impacts not only on an individual’s quality of life but their mental health and wellbeing.

As the Development Worker responsible for delivering the service in rural Clydesdale I have been working with a small team of volunteers supporting over 50 participants.

To help us better understand the impact Re-Connect has had on our participants a consultation exercise was undertaken in August 2014.

Our key findings were;

·         100% reported Re-Connect had a positive impact on their lives

·         90% reported that participation in Re-Connect reduced their isolation

What made it effective?

·         85% said 1-1 support from their volunteer

·         85% said practical help to overcome challenges eg using public transport

Projects like Re-Connect do make a difference and we want to continue to improve the lives of older people living in our community who are lonely and need our support.

We are currently awaiting the outcome of a funding bid to the BIG Lottery to continue Re-Connect over the next 3 years. So fingers crossed!!  I’ll keep you posted.  Fiona

Just take a moment to think………..

What impact would feeling lonely have on your life? How motivated would you be to do the ordinary everyday things like housework, going out and about, eating healthily or taking good care of yourself?
PS  Fantastic News....we were successful in our bid to the BIG Lottery!!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Meet the staff: Louise

There is a time for everything.....a time to rest, a time to think, a time to get yourself a new job.....and so Healthy Valleys has a shiny new team member, with a spring in my step and a little blue car, I, Louise Higgins vow to seek out those parents who will support parents in communities far and wide across rural South Lanarkshire.

As it goes I have spent the first few weeks getting to know the team and the work that they do in all the various projects under the Healthy Valleys umbrella. This has served me well in meeting local people and making links and signposting people to services, but hasn't resulted in me answering the phone's interesting how many more important things I can find to do, and every time I psyche myself up and get my wee notepad ready, somebody gets in before me.......sigh.

I thrive working in a team, (no, honestly I do....) and Healthy Valleys staff, participants and volunteers have made me feel part of the team from the get-go. Even if I had been a shy and retiring sort......I doubt I would have been allowed to sit quietly in the corner.

At the risk of slipping into Oscar ceremony mode....sniff, sniff...sob. I would like to thank the whole team for their patience and kindness in making me feel welcome at Healthy Valleys. In particular Carolanne, without whom the place would come to a grinding halt. The woman has the patience of a she gets anything done with us all constantly pestering her amazes me......

Two things that enable Healthy Valleys to flourish, are local people becoming involved in our projects and good relationships with colleagues in other agencies. These are two areas I intend to focus on over the forthcoming months.

The task I have been given is very interesting. Finding parents who might not be getting out and about with their wee ones and helping them make connections with other local parents and groups.
If you’re reading this and you think you can help me.....get on the phone immediately!
P.s......It should also be noted that nobody in the team has asked me to search for any of the following items:

  • A long stand
  • Tartan Paint
  • A bucket of steam
Much appreciated.........