Merchant Navy Day

Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September honours the brave men and women who kept our island nation afloat during both World Wars, and celebrates our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers.

Here at Community Network we reach out to those connected to the Merchant Navy, helping retired seafarers participate in our Seafarers Link telephone communities. We know that many of our beneficiaries will be participating in local and national ceremonies this week.

This year we are ‘doing our bit’, joining local councils and others across the UK commemorating Merchant Navy Day at 10.00am, 3rd September 2015.  Our funding partner Seafarers UK is calling on the government to formally recognise Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September as the official day on which the UK’s historical and ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers is commemorated, and their special needs acknowledged.

Merchant Navy Memorial and Gardens, Bristol“In war and peace they toiled their trade

Over large angry seas,

Remember them as here you stand,

Beneath these placid trees”

Capt. J Earl

Words quoted above are from Bristol’s Merchant Navy Memorial, June 2000, plaque in the regenerated harbourside, Welsh Back, Bristol.  You can just see the river behind the memorial benches. Out of view in this photo is the flag pole with Red Ensign hoisted. The flag which represents the Merchant Navy will be displayed across the country during commemorations this week.


Celebrating Volunteers’ Week

This week is volunteers’ week. Our volunteers play a really important role in helping us to provide safe, friendly spaces on the phone and online for people to connect to one another.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered with us this year including our Volunteer Facilitators, Online Community Guides, Volunteer Trainers, our Community Champions and the people who’ve given up their time to raise money for our work.

Beginning this week we’ve got a team of 4 students joining us from University College London (UCL). They’re here as part of a initiative called “UCL Global Citizenship – Voluntary Sector Programme” aimed at the students aspiring to be future leaders in the charity world.

Our team – Atika, Mike, Ayesha and Tom will be helping us find out about young people aged 18-24 and their experiences of loneliness. Watch this space for their findings.

UCL Global Citizenship - Voluntary Sector Programme student team







Summertime blues

Of all the seasons summer is the one we most associate with fun – sunshine, picnics, being outside, feeling warm and happy. Of course the appearance of the sun might encourage us to take off some layers or to get out of the house but it doesn’t necessarily stop us from feeling lonely.

Research led by Professor Christina Victor at Brunel University suggests older people are more likely to feel lonely during the summer months. We don’t know why the summer makes some people feel less connected to others but perhaps it’s about expectations. All the images we see show ideal summer days, with happy people spending time amongst friends and family. This idea of the perfect summer can leave us feeling like we’re missing out but life isn’t like a picture postcard or a Facebook post. Chores, rain, jobs, ill health, paying bills are all part of everyday life. For older people, families may be on holiday or poor mobility might make it harder to get out of the house and join in.

The reasons for loneliness at any time of year are complex but it is good to be reminded that we need build ways to support each other throughout the year.

Woman sitting alone at sunset




Vote for Community Network in the Aviva Community Challenge

This month we have been selected to take part in the Aviva Community Fund with a chance to win a donation of £5,000 for our Telephone Communities for Older People.

To be in with a chance of wining we need to get as many votes as possible. Voting is easy to do. Click on the link, register and vote for our project. You give up to 10 votes for Community Network.

1. Click on the link:
2. Register
3. Vote for our project

You can give up to 10 votes for Community Network’s London Telephone Communities for Older People project. £5,000 will enable us to keep calls free for group members throughout the year – many of whom do not speak to another person from week to week. Please help us to keep older people connected across the capital.

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your day to help us support people whose Telephone Communities group are their only link to the outside world.

Spreading the Word – free interactive conference – 17th June 2015

As part of our involvement in Cascade Training Programme with Age UK, we’re taking part in a free one day conference on 17th June 2015, to share the learning from the programme. All the details are below including how to book if you are interested in coming along.

Spreading the Word!

Free Interactive Conference, 17th June 2015, 10:30 – 16:00

Coventry University Technology Park, CV1 2TT

Empowering Volunteers and Staff to improve the Health and Wellbeing of Older People

The Cascade Training Programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, has trained 1300 volunteers and staff to support over 5500 older people to take part in health and wellbeing activities.  Join Age UK and the organisations involved in the Cascade Training Programme in a unique opportunity to find out how your organisation can be empowered to improve the health and wellbeing of older people.

Speakers will include:

  • Roger Jones from the Older Men’s Network (for Health and Wellbeing) & the Building Better Buddies Project, working on a peer support programme to encourage older men to be more active.
  • Shaheen Bi from Sporting Equals & the Moving Moments Project, which focuses on the importance of understanding faith and culture when engaging older people from black and minority ethnic communities.
  • Peta Leigh from Age UK West Cumbria on the EngAge Programme, which supports organisations to train volunteers and staff to enable socially isolated older people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing
  • Angela Cairns from Community Network & the Talking Tonics Project which supports volunteers and/or staff to set up telephone support networks based around health and well-being.

Please register your interest as soon as possible by contacting: Kathleen O’Donnell, or 020 303 31134.