Speaking up about mental health: Paula’s experience of anxiety and depression

These are the words my family, friends and colleagues use to describe me.

Infographic of words describing Paula

They aren’t words I’d use to describe how I felt on 12 May 2015 when I was sat in my car on a B&Q car park in Bolton sobbing uncontrollably and telling myself to “get a grip woman”.

It was my eldest son’s 21st birthday.  I’m really proud of him so always imagined his 21st to be a joyful day. The words I use to describe how I was feeling at that moment … out of control, lost, scared and frightened that I’d never be myself again. What if this was me forever? Continue reading

Fusion proves life changing for local family

Here’s a customer’s personal account of a better life thanks to the volunteers who run the Fusion Centre, based at Connaught Square in Tonge Moor.

My name’s Joan. I live with my husband Alan and my son David, who has learning difficulties. I have the early stages of dementia. With no support from family or friends, our lives consisted of staying in the house and staring at four walls. My husband rarely smiled and we had no social interaction. This put a big strain on our relationships, so much so, it even led me to attempt suicide.

We heard about an area forum for Tonge and the Haulgh, being held at Bolton at Home’s Tonge Moor UCAN Centre. We decided to go to hear about some road works being done where we live. We didn’t know at the time this would be a life changing experience for us. Continue reading

Customer Committee Eunice: How many pennies will you spend?

I’ve just been to our latest Customer Committee learning and development session. Sound boring? Well, it was quite the opposite as we learned more about how Bolton at Home ticks and what choices they have to make so that all tenants get the best results.

We know money’s tight right now but the simple maths of it all is pay your rent and Bolton at Home will keep maintaining a good place to live for you and your family.

If you’re a tenant and haven’t yet looked at your most recent copy of the Door to Door newsletter, I urge you to read how Bolton at Home spent each £1 of rent monies received last year.

Coming soon, online, will be your chance to say how you’d spend a pound. How much would you put towards building communities? More or less on improving homes and estates? What about making neighbourhoods safe or supporting the more vulnerable?

More details will be available soon. I can’t wait to have a bash. We’ve seen some designs of how it’ll work and I’m sure we’ll all learn something as well as having our “two pennies worth!”

Eunice Rowley

Customer Committee Member

Email: Eunice.Rowley@boltonathome.org.uk

Customer Committee Lynne: “What a brilliant idea! Can I be first please?”

If you follow posts on this blog from committee members, you’ll get a good flavour of the different activities and meetings we’re involved in by working with Bolton at Home to improve services for customers.

Our regular activities include learning sessions, which are informal meetings to find out what’s going on in the organisation, Bolton or Greater Manchester.

At our most recent learning session, we learnt about all the research and planning that has gone into investigating the possibility of installing photovoltaic panels to Bolton at Homes properties. What a brilliant idea! Can I be first, please?

It seems a win-win situation, but, obviously, not all properties would be suitable and those with unsuitable properties could be a bit miffed at missing out on the fuel savings and the chance to be more eco-friendly. The good news is that Bolton at Home runs a scheme available to everyone called Keep Warm for Less. This offers free training, advice and one-to-one support to help customers heat their homes efficiently, get the best tariffs, move from prepayment to standard meters, apply for discounts and grants, and deal with debts.

So far, Keep Warm for Less has saved 150 customers an average of £150 each on their annual fuel bills. Contact the team on 01204 219838 or email Keepwarmforless@boltonathome.org.uk if you want to be next.

We also saw an early draft of this year’s annual report to customers and we made a few comments. We want Bolton at Home to shout about the very good things it does across the borough, so we want to make sure the annual report does just this. I understand it’ll be out in a few weeks.

Then onto our annual report to the Board. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, we were brilliant, again! Seriously, when it’s written down you see how much we’ve looked at, assessed, discussed, decided and recommended, and realise how very much we’ve enjoyed ourselves.

Next is our own governance. We all have to be assessed to make sure our mutual relationship is progressing how we hoped and look at what we want to achieve, personally and collectively in the next twelve months.

360 degree scrutiny…can’t give it if we’re not prepared to get it back!!

Good session…time flew….up for the next challenge….bring it on!!

Lynne Jones

Customer Committee Member

Follow members of our Customer Committee on our blog as they reveal, in their own words, what it’s really like to be a volunteer and help us to improve our services.

You can also get to know our Customer Committee better at http://www.boltonathome.org.uk/customer-committee

Connecting communities

“Community is important, having a sense of community is essential.” Wise words from the guest speaker at our recent Connecting Communities event at King’s Church. This is where we bring community groups together, so that they can share ideas and learn from each other.

You often hear groups wishing they could have things like other groups, such as luncheon clubs, kids clubs, and buildings! So this is the day we give centre stage to our volunteers who want to ‘showcase’ their work, group or project and explain how they’ve made it happen.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Imagine yourself stood on a large stage, about to address a room full of people (who you may not know), big screen behind you and a microphone in front. Are the hairs standing up on the back of your neck yet, are your palms sweating? That’s exactly how they feel but they do it to help others go back to their communities with fresh ideas. Continue reading