Village Agents Programme
As one of its principal programmes under Aims 1 & 2 AirS has a network of Village agents currently covering Wealden, part of the Lewes District and north Rother in East Sussex. Each Village Agent becomes a trusted and well integrated person within the community, helping to improve the information and communications between and within the community and supporting the development of local initiatives as defined by local needs and aspirations.
The Village Agents’ crucial role is as a facilitator and catalyst for community development but they will also be a conduit to and from external service providers and agencies that support individuals thus effectively linking services to people and their community. For some projects an integral part of the work for the Village Agents could involve home visits and supporting individuals to access the right services, but they will mainly be supporting community groups and volunteers to do this locally.
Each Village Agent covers a number of villages, providing community development support, identifying local issues particularly for those who are disadvantaged, lonely or isolated, and then working with the local community representatives and groups to find solutions.
AirS ambition is to build on this initial work and expand into other community service areas, particularly focusing on the needs of those who are disadvantaged, older or isolated from mainstream services. This will be both exciting and challenging.
The Village Agents are delivering a number of partnership projects as follows:
1. Developing Good Neighbours Schemes (Building Strong Bridges)
We can support and assist communities to establish local Good Neighbours Schemes in Lewes and Wealden and North Rother. ‘Good Neighbours groups are set up and run by local residents to provide a ‘safety net’ for their village, responding to calls from any resident in need of a bit of extra help.
Those people who may need the support of a Good Neighbours Scheme may be older people, people with disabilities, single parents, young mothers, those temporarily in need through illness or anyone who may be isolated in the community.’
AirS can provide support for communities and initial information and guidelines to get started. AirS has produced a toolkit which contains important information and templates that any scheme can use and would be pleased to hear from anyone who feels that their community should have a Good Neighbours Scheme.
2. Building local Health and Wellbeing Programmes
AirS runs a programme to promote and directly support activities and events that improve overall health and wellbeing. These activities can range from exercise and physical activities to those that reduce loneliness and isolation and help increase an individual’s feeling of wellbeing. This builds on the work we have done for many years with older peoples’ groups across the County.
We currently work across rural East Sussex with community groups, organisations and individuals to ensure that rural residents, especially those with health conditions, have access to appropriate health and wellbeing information, advice and activities.
We would love to hear from anyone who wants to add new activities that promote better health so that we can broaden our delivery and reach over the 3 years of the programme.
3. Raising awareness about East Sussex Healthwatch
AirS role is to raise awareness with communities and individuals about East Sussex Healthwatch and supporting individuals and community groups to make feedback to Healthwatch that will be helpful in evaluating the local health services, including Adult Social Care. The programme began in April 2015 and covers all of rural East Sussex with some priority areas identified.
4. East Sussex Safe & Wellbeing Checks
AirS is working in partnership with the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) to ensure that this service reaches more people in rural communities through a programme of Safe & Wellbeing Checks for those over 80 years of age.
5. Warmer Homes Campaign
AirS is working as part of a countywide programme to raise awareness of support that is available for individual households and generally informing people about how to keep themselves and their homes warm during the winter months.
This programme is funded by the East Sussex Energy Partnership.
For more information please contact the Village Agent which covers the relevant area or alternatively please contact the Administrator using the details below:
South Lewes Parishes: Gill Blackwood (07899) 894975
North Rother Parishes: c/o Claire Reynolds (01273) 407305
North Wealden Parishes: Emma Newman (07940) 275352
Eastern Wealden Parishes: Laura Heales (07940) 275611
South West Wealden Parishes: Chiara Vagnarelli (07773) 320315
Programme Manager: Teresa Gittins (07825) 506652
Administrator: Claire Reynolds (01273) 407305
For general questions and involvement in any of the above programmes please contact Claire Reynolds in the first instance.