A blog reporting on our AGM, written by Zoyah Kanwal, one of our Wellbeing Champions.
Each year Darnall Well Being hosts an annual general meeting (AGM) to celebrate the impact that DWB has had on the community. This year’s event was held for the first time at SHU’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre on 20th October 2022. From incredible staff case studies to powerful volunteer stories, this AGM in particular highlighted the significant contributions our organisation has made to combat the challenges brought by the pandemic. This event revealed how collectively, as a community, we transformed our difficult and dreary moments into strong and memorable ones.
Unity is not only a fundamental part of strengthening a community but at the very core of DWB’s values and principles. The evening showcased how we converted measurable investments into immeasurable impact, throughout the course of the pandemic we’ve collected stories from over 7,000 contacts and distributed 32,000 Community Connector leaflets, especially targeting digitally excluded areas. We’ve also involved over 273 people with underlying health problems to access existing support across Sheffield such as: diabetes support, Live Lighter, stopping smoking and alcohol reduction – everyone we’ve supported were immensely grateful for DWB facilitating these opportunities getting them closer to their healthier selves.
At the very heart of DWB’s work are the determined and dedicated volunteers. The evening featured speeches from volunteers focusing on why they volunteered and how they benefitted as volunteers. A wide array of responses was shared, demonstrating that ‘you get as much out of it as you give into it’, that ‘it’s lovely to do things which you can’t do otherwise’ knowing you’ve made an impact and that ‘you feel you’re needed’ by your community – a valuable sense of purpose and responsibility, especially when feeling lost in life is highly prevalent in these challenging times. Many volunteers have found that volunteering ‘helped them mentally’ and ‘there wasn’t the help and support to this extent in the past’.
An important benefit from volunteering is ‘companionship and finding people in situations worse than you’ to help better understand our community’s needs. Others find ‘a sense of peace and calm, taking time to reflect in a non-stressful environment being in the fresh air amongst nature around people in similar situations to you’, you’ll even find that volunteering allows you to ‘come and have a laugh’ with fun being common theme in a variety of activities. Furthermore, encouraging the constant maintaining and improving of mental health, volunteers feel compelled to help ‘de-stigmatise mental health and other things like dementia, because it can happen to anybody’ – no one should feel alone.
Volunteering with DWB, has been a unique and inclusive journey for all volunteers due to the vast diversity of ‘different ethnicities, different age groups and walks of life, different work experiences and different skillsets’ illustrating that ‘everyone has an opportunity to get involved’. DWB has ensured their impact is further expanded by broadening horizons for its volunteers. Volunteers utilised opportunities to upgrade their skillsets through training courses in areas like sports leadership, dementia, digital skills, mindfulness, first aid and nutrition. As a result, the constant focus of improving our work and volunteers led to opening new activity areas like sports and mindfulness to explore, increasing community engagement.
A closing speech given by Professor Robert Copeland from SHU’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre explained the 3Ps concept (‘People, Place and Purpose’) and emphasised its significance for supporting our community. It’s the lives of the people in Darnall who we’ve transformed and supported that keeps our organisation standing. Darnall is a place that matters to us, ‘we want to create a safer Darnall, where people are hopeful and feel belonged – the power to bring stability in uncertainty’. DWB is a purpose-driven organisation, committed to empower others to rise and flourish, instilling purpose to those we serve giving them value and meaning to benefit from – ‘truly the most powerful gift to a society’. The driving force behind each and every part of our service is the compassion from all our staff, trustees, volunteers and most importantly our community. As Coretta Scott King once said, ‘the greatness of a community is measured by the compassionate action of its members’.