25th Feb, 2020

'Elmer' the motorhome bringing isolated Rugbeians together

Andy Morris 12th Jan, 2020

ISOLATED people in Rugby are being brought together thanks to a project run by Rugby and Daventry Methodist Circuit.

Volunteers for the Making Connexions initiative take a special motorhome out to communities to offer information and advice on the support services available, as well as providing food and a friendly face to talk to for the most vulnerable people.

The team – which is based at The Chapel Newbold – has nicknamed the motorhome Elmer after the popular children’s books by David McKee, which promote acceptance and diversity.

Lucy Catling, Pioneer Chaplain for Making Connexions and The Chapel Newbold, was inspired to start up the service from her own experience of being isolated due to suffering from ME.

She said: “I was housebound and pretty much bedbound for about six-and-a-half years. From that I gained an understanding of what it was like to be socially isolated.

“I identify with the fact that people need a lot of support to be able to get out of that place.”

She said it was important to connect with people in their own communities, particularly those who are struggling to get out of the home due to mental health issues or being victims of crime.

“The hope is to engage with people and then to help them to have the confidence to engage with other things in the community,” she said.

The project has been awarded £5,000 from the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Annual Grants Fund, to go towards staff costs.

Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said: “Those who are socially isolated can often find themselves vulnerable as victims of crime, so it’s really important to find new ways to try and help them.

“I’m really keen to see how the Making Connexions initiative continues to develop and I’m delighted to be able to provide financial support to enable it to get out into the community.”

More volunteers are wanted to help Elmer visit a variety of locations across Rugby three to four times a week – particularly volunteer befrienders who can drive the motorhome, which requires only a standard driving licence. Funding is also needed to ensure the project’s sustainability.

Contact Lucy at The Chapel Newbold, Main Street, Newbold CV21 1HH or email lucy@thechapelnewbold.org.uk to get involved.

Visit www.facebook.com/elmermakingconnexions for more information.

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