by Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
Mel, has been volunteering at one of our Night Light cafes since 2021. She shares with us the passion and vision of what Night Light stands for and we so appreciate the commitment and enthusiasm she gives to the café she volunteers at. I asked Mel about why she has chosen to volunteer with us at Night Light and why she feel there is a necessity for this project.
I contacted the Volunteer Centre Services as I was looking for volunteering with an organisation on the mental health field and they told me about this project and how brilliant it was.
I caught up with Alanna, who’s recently joined the Acts Team on a six month placement as a ‘Projects Assistant’ through Kickstart. Alanna is working across the charity helping out with most of our projects each week, including with young people at Energize holiday clubs and schemes, Restore courses and our Community Grocery.
Alanna had a brilliant interview with us and has made a strong start. I caught up with her last week to see how she’s getting on.
Tell us a bit about yourself; what’s led you up to this point in life, what are your hobbies and passions?
I’m Alanna, I have been working with Acts for just over a month now! In 2020, I graduated form the University of Bristol in Psychology and since then have worked as an Inclusivity Project Researcher supporting young LGTBQ+ young people and their families. I love to travel and previously I have worked in Paris and Barcelona as an Au Pair and worked as a waitress in the French Alps for a season, all of which were great experiences that introduced me to new cultures and opportunities! I am really passionate about creating equal opportunities and supporting individuals and communities to be able to access the support they need, particularly when it comes to mental health.
What is Kickstart, and what drew you to come and work with Acts?
Kickstart is a government funded scheme offering six-month work placements to 16-24 year olds to get back into work and gain the work experience they require. I was drawn to work with Acts as I felt they offered the perfect opportunity for me to gain the skills, training and experience I would need to develop as a community and mental health support worker in the future. I also felt they were really committed to offering and ensuring my time with them was enriching, varied and positive.
What does your role with Acts entail?
My role as Community Projects Assistant enables me to work across Acts on a diverse range of projects delivering support to so many different people and communities. So far, this has involved supporting the delivery of the Restore courses, such as the Life Ready course which supports people to build strong foundations for life. I will also soon be involved in the Restore coaching support which I am very excited for.
I also support the Energize team working to deliver evening youth clubs and holiday schemes across the city. This has been a great opportunity to get to know some great kids and offer arts and crafts activities, organize sports activities and more.
Finally, I also have the opportunity to support the Community Grocery which has been such a rewarding experience and a great learning opportunity to understand how I can support the worsening living crisis in Lincoln and tackle food waste whilst meeting lots of friendly faces.
What are you hoping to get out of working for Acts, and conversely, what impact do you hope to have?
By working for Acts, I am hoping to support and empower individuals and communities and make a positive impact on hopefully at least one person’s life, if not more! I am hoping to gain a whole host of transferable skills that will help me to deliver impactful, empathetic support going forward and I look forward to contributing to great projects in the community that I grew up in.
You’ve been working with us for about a month now. What have been some of your highlights so far?
My highlights so far have been meeting so many people from different backgrounds and having some insightful and empowering conversations. I have also appreciated the opportunity to further my understanding of the challenges that people in my community face and learning how I can contribute to creating positive outcomes. Working with the kids through the Energize schemes has been so much fun and given me a great refresher on timeless games such as stuck in the mud and dodgeball!
I also love the community grocery! It’s such a great initiative and lovely space where everyone that works to make it happen are so positive.
Check out what’s on here if you’d like to get some help with us, or book your children into some activities with Energize.
How about the biggest challenges?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been having some difficult conversations with Acts service users who are in challenging situations or struggling and understanding and realising the lack of opportunities they are often faced with. It has also given me the chance to check my privilege and realise how different the experience of living in Lincoln can be.
You can support local people facing these challenges by giving to us financially.
What are your own hopes for after your placement with us?
After my placement, my hope is to continue to support under-served communities however I can. I am passionate about pursuing a career that creates accessible mental health support and services for communities that find it difficult to access this based on a number of factors. I would like to explore possible interventions and policies that work towards challenging mental health stigma and stereotypes enabling easily accessible, judgement-free services for all communities. I would also like to do some more travelling if possible, potentially combining my passion for research and academia.
If you’re involved with any of our projects, you’ll likely meet Alanna in the coming weeks. Do say hello and help her continue to feel welcome!
By Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
Have you ever lay awake at night unable to sleep? What keeps you awake? What goes through your mind? How does lack of sleep impact your following day?
We all need to sleep! According to the Sleep foundation, ‘sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly’.
So, it is no surprise then that lack of sleep can be detrimental to our mental health. If you have a mental health problem it can affect how well you sleep, but likewise poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. It’s a vicious cycle, one of which can be difficult to break
Stacey Marriot, our Night Light Cafes Coordinator, has received a High Sheriff’s Award in recognition for her outstanding work setting up Night Light Crisis Cafes in Lincolnshire.
by Stacey Marriott – Night Light Café Coordinator
We value all our guests who come to our Night Light cafes, whether this is for a one off visit or to come to find a weekly safe haven. I recently met up with one of our guests, Anastasia for a chat and this is what she had to tell me:
Q What’s your favourite animal and why?
I love cows, I really love a big ginger cow! I also love sloths because they are sleepy and slow like me.
Q I notice you have blue hair, tell us about that?
I thought that everyone was staring at me, so I thought I would make them stare! I dyed my hair blue and got lots of piercings.
Over the Christmas period, we put out a social media appeal to recruit some temporary volunteers to work in our Night Light Cafes, so that we would be able to remain open every day, including Christmas day. We were overwhelmed with the response we had from a range of people including teachers on their Christmas breaks, mental health social workers and therapists. Even more special for us, was that over 50% of these temporary volunteers have now asked to continue to volunteer with us throughout the year.
Rebecca, a teacher from Lincoln, is one of these incredible volunteers, who stepped up and supported us all through Christmas and has now joined one of our cafés permanently. I asked Rebecca to tell me more about her experiences volunteering with our team.
As part of urgent work to improve the mental health crisis care offered in Lincolnshire, and in our local communities, Gainsborough and Grantham have today joined the Night Light Café family and will be closely followed by Spalding, set to open next week.
Tell me a little about yourself….
Hello! I’m Jemma and I live in Lincoln with my husband Dave and our two boys Eli and Arlo. I’m currently on maternity leave and I go back to work in January 2022. I work for Alive Church in admin and communications.