Somerset Stories: Wivey Cares

In 2018, Somerset Community Foundation awarded £5,000 to David Patterson to set up Wivey Cares, as part of a scheme to help social entrepreneurs kick-start new ideas. Since then SCF has awarded a further £35,000 to Wivey Cares, which has since gone on to be a catalyst for a diverse range of community activity across Wiveliscombe, such as Wivey Grows. The CIO is an important illustration of how local organisations often adapt and flex within their communities.

Over the past few years Wivey Cares has become an established service in the local community, enabling quality support and care services for local people by recruiting local self employed carers. David Patterson, founder of Wivey Cares, explains how our funding supports an innovative and kinder approach to local care.

“Wiveliscombe is a strong rural community but it feels isolated, especially since public transport was cut. Wivey Cares supports any older residents who need it. It grew from within our community, who have taken control of it themselves.

The model is unique because we don’t use an agency for our carers. They’re all local, self-employed and make time to care. Most agency workers have little time to spend with their client, they’re always rushing from one to the next. We do things entirely locally and there’s a real appetite to replicate the success of this model elsewhere.

As local people we understand what the issues are and where the need is. The challenges older people face include loneliness, isolation, memory loss and problems with self care. Our carers provide company, help with cooking, showering and personal hygiene – looking after them in their own home for as long as possible. There’s an unspoken bond between carers and clients: they’re invested in the community and go the extra mile. They can reminisce about people who used to live there or local events that took place. We in turn value our carers and they receive pay more equal to the very difficult work they are doing.

Our Memory Café is one of our success stories. It started 15 months ago and offers older people with memory loss a regular social event and a way to keep active, socialise and stay connected with the wider community. I remember one man coming who looked defeated by life; really downtrodden and sad. By the end of the session his mood had visibly lifted. He felt connected and had made some friends that afternoon.

We couldn’t have achieved all we have without Somerset Community Foundation. You pump-primed the project to get it going then supported us to keep it going with a £5,000 grant to set up Wivey Cares, as part of a scheme to help social entrepreneurs kick-start new ideas, back in 2018. We now have 40 carers looking after some 140 clients at any one time. All supported by a single co-ordinator working just over 20 hours per week. We’ve used one of our most recent grants to help with running costs of our Memory Café – the session charges barely cover them – and other recent grant funding we’ve received from SCF is used to pay our co-ordinator.

Not being able to continue our work would be unthinkable and so many people would be let down. Older vulnerable people in our community would suffer the most. Keeping them supported at home is better for everyone.”

08.09.23


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