As with our other services our Housing support programmes were severely challenged during the lasts twelve months. Most of the support was offered online and by phone. We started the year with the closure of our Assessment Centre. In April 2020 when we were instructed by the GLA and Brent Council to move all clients out of our Assessment Centre to hotels as our living quarters was not suitable to social distancing. The closure of the Assessment Centre meant the loss of most of our Housing staff. Whilst most clients were eventually housed, we have lost a key component of our housing service i.e. the ability to offer emergency accommodation to single homeless people.
We have continued with our Boost Up programme – i.e. supporting 18 – 24-year-old homeless people into secure accommodation, a service which is scheduled to end in June 2021 as funding ceases at that point. Our Big Lottery funded ‘Independent Lifestyles’ project also continued to support clients during the year and again funding for this work ends in June 2021.
- 146 single homeless people supported into housing
- 90 people offered support with associated challenges e.g. benefits advice, financial and debt information, access to NHS services
- Average of 60 meals a week in the first 9 months of the pandemic provided to existing and new clients
- Hybrid support via face to face and phone/digital support
Brent and parts of its surrounding boroughs are ranked amongst the top 15% of the most deprived areas of the country. This level of deprivation is characterised by high levels of long-term unemployment, lower than average incomes and a reliance on benefits and social housing. Loneliness and isolation are also associated with poor mental, physical, and emotional health. Socially isolated and lonely adults are more likely to experience early admission to residential or nursing care.
- Promoting Ashford Place as a welcoming, accessible and first choice community hub offering programmes of social and leisure activities
- Identifying more residents in need of inclusion, support, and advice through partnerships with external networks such as faith groups, GP surgeries, library, social networks etc
- Providing a signposting and referral service for clients seeking opportunities which bring isolated people into contact with others on a regular basis
- Providing a platform to give the socially isolated ‘a voice’ and increasingly involve clients in the design and delivery of services which will promote using their skills and life experience in a way that increases their confidence and self-determination
- Identifying and supporting others in the community who may be at risk of social isolation by partnering with Brent Council’s Community Directory of activities
- 325 people accessed – in person and online - our social, learning and fun activities
- 95% stated that they felt socially connected because of being a part of Ashford Place
The last twelve months have been challenging for everyone, and for those with mental health difficulties. Despite the barriers to physical engagement brought about by the pandemic we have continued to engage with our clients via phone, internet, and doorstep visits. This way of working has meant that we had to re-double our resources to ensure we continued to keep in contact with everyone at least once a week. Over time we began to more confident in our use of digital communication and many of our clients are now reasonably able to take part in zoom-based activities, with the occasional face to face support in between the various lockdowns throughout the year.
Working with communities across Brent and focusing on BAME and Faith communities, we engage with groups who do not tend to access health and wellbeing support whether it be mental health, physical health, dementia, and general advice services. Most of our clients live with mental health challenges or dementia, are carers, homeless or have been homeless, socially isolated, long term unemployed and aged 18 and above. All the activities Ashford Place delivers are accompanied by health and wellbeing messages and promote positive health. We work alongside Brent CCG’s and Brent Council jointly funded Peer Support programme to ensure we work in partnership and optimise the lived experience of clients.
- Working alongside Hestia and contracted by Brent Clinical Commissioning Group we together continued to support people with long term mental health problems, to strengthen their confidence and self-esteem and to move closer to being able to find employment. Our team of Mentors and Befrienders were an invaluable support and have been one of the highlights of this challenging year. The contract ended at the end of April 2021 which has been a challenge for everyone involved as we are keen to ensure our clients continue to be supported by the new contractor
- Increased outreach across Brent via zoom and doorstep interventions
- Continued development of our Dementia Peer Support Project enabling people living with dementia to lead on positive solutions
- Continued support of our dementia cafes which were particularly challenged during the pandemic, but who continue their work in supporting the creation of a dementia friendly borough. Community Action on Dementia – Brent, a campaigning group received ‘working to become a dementia friendly borough ‘status in December 2020 from the Alzheimer’s Society. Ashford Place is a key partner working along with this group
- Development of social activities programmes offering via zoom and face to face when Covid-19 regulations allowed
- 120 people provided with counselling support
- 145 active members of our Fit + Well programme
- Supporting 10 suitable local heroes who themselves deliver Health & Wellbeing support
- 4000 nutritious healthy lunches, served in our Community Café when regulations allowed, and a mixture of take always and home deliveries
- Side Door café offering a cuppa and social connection
Ashford Place sees itself as a charity for the whole community and as such is keen to join residents and businesses to develop a pleasant and sustainable place for all of us. As Chair of the Cricklewood Town Team (CTT ) since 2009 Danny Maher, CEO of Ashford Place continued to meet with the CTT membership, mostly via zoom to discuss the Town Team’s response to Covid-19 and how best to support residents and local businesses. Despite the challenging year, the Town Team continues to improve and develop the area and remained the voice of residents in our community.
CTT volunteers work in partnership with residents, business and statutory bodies have been working hard to improve the environment in Cricklewood over ten years. We benefit from thriving local resident associations such as NorthWestTwo, the Railway Cottages, Mapesbury RA and groups such as Clitherhouse Farm, local businesses, our Councillors from our surrounding wards of Mapesbury (Brent), Childs Hill (Barnet) and Fortune Green (Camden), and of course our residents.
The Brent NCIL-funded pedestrianisation of Oaklands Road/Broadway. Completion and formal opening is scheduled for July 21 to coincide with easing of the latest lockdown. The project was completed in March 21 and now offers a safe attractive pedestrian space including improved air-quality on the Broadway.
The Town Team’s partnership with GTR at Cricklewood station enabled CTT and residents’ associations to obtain funding for improved facilities at the Station. There is a stunning art installation on the approach to Platform 1 by local artist and CTT member, Alistair Lambert acknowledging the historical presence of the aeronautical industry in Cricklewood. A history project will be installed in the new passenger waiting area as soon as this has been finalised, bringing the story of Cricklewood over the past 150 years. The plan for the garden on the platform was stopped by the rail companies from a safety viewpoint. However, the wonderful repainting of Cricklewood on the railway bridge was undertaken by using that funding and a lot of hard work by Northwest Two RA to get all the requirements in place for the work to be undertaken safely.
CTT continued to work with the Cricklewood Business Association to ensure clear communication of public realm projects and their development on the Broadway e.g. Brent Cross development which include new road works on the Broadway.
The TfL Legible London signpost installation was completed during the year.
The Cricklewood Community Library continues to be developed and is expected to formally open in the summer of 2021. CTT encourages residents to get involved in the range of planned activities. It’s been a hard struggle to raise the funds and credit goes to this local success.
The search for community space in Cricklewood continues; the Town Team aims to use the space for local involvement in environmental and well-being issues.