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Dragons Den – Spotlight on Communities and Charities in Shropshire

I was really pleased last month to be involved with a charity event organised by the Shropshire Providers Consortium (SPC). Five charities met with local business people at Lanyon Bowdler’s Shrewsbury office to discuss their existing and planned activities in Shropshire. Similar events also took place in Oswestry and Telford.

Joining myself as ‘Dragons’ were Carol Ewels from Always Consult, Sarah Offland from Barclays, Mandy Thorn from Marches Care and Councillor Nic Laurens from Shropshire Council. We did our best however to reign in any tendencies towards fire breathing and instead focused on how we could potentially work with or support the organisations that came to pitch their ideas.

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It was very interesting to hear about the range of different projects and community groups that exist within Shrewsbury. In attendance were Headway Shropshire, Axis Counselling, Shropshire Disability Network, Shropshire Youth Association and the Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy.

All the charities/groups had the opportunity to highlight their work and ask for support with a particular aspect. I have summarised below the current work of the different charities and their plans for the future.

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Headway Shropshire

Headway Shropshire is a registered charity working with people who have suffered an acquired brain injury. They support people both in their own homes and within their dedicated site to help individuals to return to living as independently as possible and to enjoy everyday activities such as cooking, art and craft, socialising and gardening. They currently have 110 day placements per week, but find that the demand for their services is ever growing.

Headway Shropshire consequently is looking to grow to meet this demand and to secure a new building which would allow them to offer more day places, along with accommodation for those who are well enough to leave hospital, but need to remain within a supportive environment.

If you would like to find out more about Headway Shropshire, you can visit their website here: http://www.headwayshropshire.org.uk.

They are also holding a winter fair on Saturday 18 November if you would like to pop in and meet the team.

Axis Counselling

Axis Counselling provide essential counselling to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Their focus is on helping adults and children to deal with the trauma of those experiences and go on to thrive and reach their potential. They, like many services providing mental health support, have found that demand has greatly outstripped their ability to supply services. They advised that at the moment, they have 200 people on the waiting list with patients waiting around one year for an appointment.

They wanted advice on how to expand their services and generate income so that they could reach more people.

They also suggested that in the future they would like to offer training in schools and colleges in relation to sexual abuse.

If you would like to find out more about Axis Counselling, you can visit their website here: http://www.axiscounselling.org.uk/.

Shropshire Disability Network

Shropshire Disability Network provide support through their website, quarterly meetings and newsletters to those in Shropshire who suffer from a disability or long-term health conditions along with offering carers and social workers. They also run the Safe Places community initiative in Shropshire.

Ruby Hartshorn of Shropshire Disability Network explained that while their organisation has just over 1000 members across Shropshire, she is aware that there are over 56,000 people with disabilities or long term conditions in Shropshire. She wanted advice on how to reach more people and raise awareness of what Shropshire Disability Network can offer.

They also had this to say about their participation in the event;

"SDN appreciated the opportunity to pitch to the friendly dragons, we are grateful to those who are helping us. A quick win for us was when networking with the other charities as it gave us chance to talk. Shropshire Youth Association offered us storage space at an accessible location meaning our Chairperson who has stored the majority of our items can have her home back"

You can find out more about Shropshire Disability Network here: https://shropshire-disability.net/.

Shropshire Youth Association

Shropshire Youth Association assists youth clubs and groups and provides programmes for young people in Shropshire such as CRUCIAL CREW. They currently support 120 youth clubs across Shropshire with offices, budgets, safeguarding, DBS checks and training. However, since public funding was cut four years ago, they have seen a drop in the number of clubs registering with the Shropshire Youth Association.

They wanted advice on how to adapt to the changes in public funding and assistance in developing their organisation further.

You can learn more about Shropshire Youth Association here: http://www.sya.org.uk/.

Yellow Ribbon Community Chaplaincy

This organisation aims to help ex-offenders rehabilitate and provide mentoring support, temporary accommodation and a furniture restoration shop and café where ex-offenders can retrain, get work experience and obtain a reference. Pauline Mack of Yellow Ribbon explained to the Dragons that sometimes ex-offenders leave prison with just the clothes on their backs and £46 to last them for up to four - six weeks before any benefits are received. It is in these situations that Yellow Ribbon try to step in to assist the ex-offenders and help them to get back on their feet.

Yellow Ribbon was particularly looking to expand their café, workshop and furniture shop so that they could give more ex-offenders an opportunity to learn business skills while volunteering there.

You can learn more about the Yellow Ribbon projects here: http://yellowribbonuk.org.uk/.

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