Monday: I arrive in Ireland to give a presentation to members of the Irish voluntary sector on the benefits of telephone support groups, hosted by West Clare Community Services Programme and West Clare Family Resource Centre. It goes well and the only glitch is technical - I can't work out how to use the PowerPoint slide show. Thank goodness I brought a hard copy.
Tuesday: I travel to Ennis for lunch at Roscommon Home Services, which is planning to launch telephone friendship groups in Galway in the spring.
Back in Somerset, where I'm based, I get to work on our Welsh project to link older people through telephone friendship groups. I get in touch with volunteering organisation RSVP Wales to talk about setting up a telephone friendship group for disabled members of its knitting network. I also contact the WCVA - I'm hoping that telephone groups will be a cost-effective way for it to connect isolated people in Wales as part of its Involving People project.
Wednesday: Up to London to work on our Seafarer Link project. The Community Network is delivering this scheme in partnership with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Project in six areas of the country. Retired seafarers are very isolated, so we're setting up telephone friendship groups led by retired seafarers and evaluating the effect it has on them. Our first Seafarers Link telephone friendship group should be up and running by April.
Thursday: Back in Somerset, I reply to some queries from local authorities about telephone support groups for carers. I send information to Blackburn and Darwen, Hull, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire and Wales. I'm also in the process of getting in touch with all those who attended the Government's regional carers events in 2008 to ask if they'd like us to set up friendship groups for their carers.
Friday: At Christmas the Community Network helped isolated people in London to listen to carol services on their telephones. I'm working on plans to set up similar links across the south west in time for Christmas 2009.
Last week, I received an email from a Hindu temple in Ireland that wanted to organise some of its events using Community Network teleconferences. I get another email from them saying their first teleconference was a success and they want to book more. It's a great way to end the week.
- The Community Network sets up telephone groups to connect and support isolated people