Voluntary Sector Focus: Anna McKen, Director, Appreciate U CIC | Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council

by James Clarke
4 weeks ago
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Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?

Appreciate U CIC is a community interest company which began in 2014. Through extensive research we realised that many people who lived within the local community of Wolverhampton had become socially isolated and lonely due to many and various reasons. We understood that this had become an increasing problem; our aim was to address this issue through providing support to the local community through our befriending service.

Since 2014, we have hosted many activities such as lunch clubs, information sessions with regard to health and wellbeing, day trips, theatre trips, exercise sessions, creative writing courses, arts & craft, chess clubs and sewing clubs. We have found that not only have members of the community enjoyed the activities, they have formed long lasting relationships which has had a positive impact upon their health and wellbeing.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Our greatest achievement has been recognising talented individuals, from diverse backgrounds within the community, who have been through challenging situations and who have grown and developed in the face of adversity. We have witnessed isolated individuals who are now engaged and interacting with others and getting involved in many activities which we host. We are proud to say that some of those individuals have now become volunteers for Appreciate U CIC.

We were delighted to receive a community award from Sainsbury’s. We have also received recognition for our community work from the Rotary Club, Wednesfield Magazine, the Express & Star newspaper, Big Centre TV and the Wolverhampton Mayor.

What is your experience of support received from WVSC?

WVSC has a great dedicated team who have supported us throughout our journey. WVSC has helped us in terms of organisational planning, networking, funding advice and peer to peer learning. We believe that WVSC is a very important platform for Third Sector organisations within the city to be able to engage and support each other. We would like to sincerely thank Sharon Nanan-Sen for her support.

 

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?

We are really proud of the diverse communities in Wolverhampton and this should be nurtured. We have learnt that many people often lack the confidence in life to engage with others and with activities and this can have a negative impact upon their health and wellbeing. Providing the correct support and guidance can enable each person to reach their true potential. We recognise that therapeutic activities, through community cohesion, can create a positive impact and enrich the lives of many.

What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVSC help to support your organisation in the future?

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced many challenges, however we have worked through these challenges to highlight opportunities to meet and fulfil the needs of the local community in current times.  We now support vulnerable socially isolated people through our Empower Me project, iPad, Me and Tea project and also Movement and Me Project, which are carried out through the platform of zoom.
These three projects are aimed at enriching the community through, empowering, coaching, learning and increasing the confidence of those who suffer from social isolation. We have also delivered food parcels to those in need.

We appreciate the support from WVSC, HM government, The Lottery – Awards from All, Rotary Club, Greggs, Nandos, Juicy Fruits, Creative Black Country, Heart of England and the Active Citizen’s Award. We are pleased to say that we have supported over 200 people in the community.

Where can we find out more?

Contact: www.info@appreciate-u.org.uk
Website: www.appreciate-u.org.uk
Facebook: appreciateucic

Would you like to be featured in our Voluntary Sector Focus? Contact Sharon Nanan-Sen on snanan-sen@wolverhamptonvsc.org.uk for more info!