The Denby Dale Centre is a 16 year old rural charity, operating independently with a really straight forward aim, to connect people.
The charity operates three themes to achieve the full aims of connecting people, reducing isolation, relieving loneliness and improving quality of life; by providing community activities, community transport and community places.
During the 2020-2021 Coronavirus Pandemic, the Denby Dale Centre was in a great place of collaboration and partnership, with systems and networking, to set up a system of Community Response to those people who needed support. Services that were established included a Shopping Service, Dog Walking, Telephone Befriender, Walking Befriender, Prescription Collection, Cooked Food Delivery, Volunteer Car Service, Emergency Food Fund, Community Pantry, Community Fund, Mutual Aid Group support, Anchor Services, Vaccination Transport and Social Prescribing.
The pandemic services included services outside of the rural area where people were supported in nearby Huddersfield, Batley and Dewsbury. One of the situations was where on a Friday evening, a lady had presented herself to us for help as we were closing for the weekend; she was in her third trimester of pregnancy and had no food or benefits - she had not eaten for four days. Although she lived in North Kirklees, the Denby Dale Centre managed to get food to her by the following morning, which was met with a flood of tears of joy and relief.
The Denby Dale Centre has been involved with #socialprescribing for a number of years; this is where a GP would prescribe social activities as well as or instead of medication, with a view to improving someone's health and wellbeing. The charity has worked with surgeries for some time, however to our delight, a national acknowledgement by the NHS of the benefits of working with the community, people have experienced an improved quality of life.
Some people who have experienced social prescribing include a gentleman who's life deteriorated as an health issue became dominant to his life, and his mental health was being reduced due to sitting at home. This gentleman is now a keen volunteer for the Volunteer Car Service in the rural area, helping other people get to health appointments, library and shops. A lady had struggled when she adopted an unsociable dog, and found a place where she could take her dog with her, and has found strength in being connected to others.
In the summer of 2021, in appreciation of the wider and responsive work of the Denby Dale Centre and Local Services 2 You, #KirkleesCouncil nominated both of these local charities to the National Association of Link Workers for their Social Prescribing and Community Support work.
By August, the Denby Dale Centre had heard that it had been shortlisted to National Finalist Community Group of the Year 2021, along with three other noteworthy organisations.
The Denby Dale Centre was invited to the Awards Ceremony, which due to the aftermath of the pandemic, was to be a digital event. We were asked to produce a short film about the work of the charity and a charity bio, which would be used in the process.
On the 7th October, the Denby Dale Centre Chief Officer, Chairman and Deputy Chairman attended the national ceremony, with judges from all four countries, guest speakers from specialised areas from the length and breadth of the country.
The Denby Dale Centre team were also routing for Rebecca Palmer, a Kirklees Council Social Prescribing Link Worker who was also a National Finalist for Social Prescribing Link Worker of the Year, who has referred people to the Denby Dale Centre, to improve their quality of life.
The Awards Gala was five hours long, so Team DDC has supplied their own buffet to see them through the afternoon for between speaker and award eating time. As the time drew near, our Chief Officer, Paul Jones MBE went to the digital backstage green room, to wait to be taken on the digital stage, along with the three other finalists, all community groups.
The winner was the Outside Edge Theatre Company, a London based group working to support people living with poor mental health, however we were delighted to hear the announcement that the Denby Dale Centre had received the Highly Commended Community Group of the Year 2021 Award.
Paul, our Chief Officer said "...I was truly overwhelmed that we had been selected as a National Finalist, for what we do as our normal. At no point did any of us think that what we did was exceptional, however we do know the difference that we make to our local neighbours. I did tweet this morning that we [everyone at the awards] were all winners, because of what we do, which was a welcomed quote and was retweeted. Making a difference to peoples lives describes the Denby Dale Centre. We are very proud to be National Finalists, however to be Highly Commended, we are totally over the moon with..."
Paul continued "...we would like to thank all those many people who collaborated with us, from the amazing volunteers, to the council directors, from the NHS to our members and customers who we support - together we have a better place to live..."
Congratulations came in from near and far, from Council Officers and Directors, from the NHS, and from colleagues from across the community.