My role at Community Catalysts is to work in partnership with local people to try and reduce loneliness in York. I do this by supporting and promoting community enterprises that bring people together, so I’m delighted to hear that Comoodle is coming to York.
My aim is to create more connections, so I really appreciate the value of a tool that helps me to do this.
Having previously worked closely with the Comoodle team, as part of a project I was working on in Kirklees, it would be remiss of me not to share at least one story to illustrate the wonderful potential of this simple, yet extremely effective, community platform:
Sophie* and the Lego Club
I first met Sophie and her parents at a review meeting, where she was being invited to consider her options. Sophie’s situation wasn’t quite working out and she was “mostly bored and frustrated”, spending lots of her time at home.
Sophie has autism and was clearly finding the meeting uncomfortable. As things progressed, it became obvious that the options on offer weren’t appropriate. It was at this point that her Mum made a passing reference to Sophie’s love of Lego and I asked the question, “Would you like to do something that involves Lego?”
Sophie became animated as we went on to discuss possibilities and it quickly became apparent that running a Lego group was a dream of Sophie’s that not even her parents were aware of. With her newfound enthusiasm, Sophie went home to start work on her plans.
Finding a Venue – ‘Space’ on Comoodle
Sophie needed a venue, so we went on Comoodle and clicked on the ‘space’ heading. Fortunately, a local restaurant was offering a free room above their premises. Sophie went to view the room, and it was perfect! The next job was to source some Lego and so we headed back to Comoodle to post a request under the ‘stuff’ section, and within a week two large boxes of Lego had arrived!
Working in partnership
It was at this point that a speech and language therapist got in touch, who was particularly excited by the prospect of meeting up with Sophie to see if they could work together. A partnership emerged, and Sophie went on to become a voluntary speech and language therapy assistant for the NHS Trust, something nobody could have anticipated during that original review meeting.
To use an analogy, it was as though Sophie had entered a restaurant and, having checked the menu, could find nothing suitable. If this was to happen to you, consider how satisfying it would be if the chef was to invite you into the kitchen to create your very own dish, which is effectively what we were able to do with Sophie.
Comoodle is the key!
A key ingredient to the unfolding of the above was finding a suitable room, which was a necessary first step. We overcame this obstacle easily and effortlessly and Comoodle really helped us to achieve this.
Mental health problems are on the rise and increasing numbers of people are lonely and isolated. Never has there been a more urgent need for open and honest collaboration and to develop more effective communication and connections. We all want good lives well lived and nothing is more important than strong, authentic relationships. That said, there is certainly no shortage of people, skills, stuff and space in York – it just needs joining up more and I’m certain Comoodle will play a significant role in giving things a hugely beneficial stir.
Looking back, what was particularly refreshing about Sophie’s story was the flexibility this way of working offered when all else wasn’t working, coupled with the way people effortlessly came together to help turn her dream into reality. Fortunately, Comoodle is now available to the people of York, affording them an excellent opportunity to unlock all manner of untapped potential, discover what dreams lay dormant, and to take tangible steps towards bringing them to life.
None of the above happens by itself, it takes a hands-on and consistent commitment to action. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get sharing!
*not her actual name