Local volunteers are helping to shape Northolt’s future…from a base inside the town’s library. We spoke to two of these ‘champions’ to find out more.
The Northolt Library Hub meets every Thursday between 10am and 4pm. The project has been set up to offer face-to-face employment, health and well-being support to local people from trained and experienced volunteers, also known as ‘community champions’.
As well as offering practical and emotional support to clients, the project is also carrying out a research project to better understand some of the barriers facing Northolt residents. It aims to build on the existing community spirit and forge a new, positive identity for the area.
The community champions are co-ordinated by Greenford, Northolt and Perivale Community Forum. They are local and well placed to quickly get to the heart of the people’s problems. One of them is David Cox, 70, who has been a volunteer and community advocate for many years.
He said: “I saw the poster on the notice board of my sheltered housing scheme and thought, ‘this is ideal’. I have 30 years of experience in community involvement and, now I’m retired, I also have the time. I like that I’ve been able to help shape the project and develop the research element using my skills and past experience.
“Because we are volunteers, local people see us differently; they know that we are independent. We just want a good community and we want other people to have a good community.”
‘We show people the power they have to change things’
Elizabeth Salmon, 31, has lived in Northolt all of her life. She is a paralegal and has a passion for improving her local neighbourhood. She said: “I wanted to give back as well as find out more about the people who live here. Personally, it’s been very rewarding to meet new people each week and to help make a difference to their lives.
“There are lots of people in Northolt who have skills, but have lost their way. One client had been unwell for a very long time and needed support and encouragement to realise that he still had something to offer. Just having people around him to talk to really gave him the confidence he needed to take his first steps and start to change his life.”
David continued: “Part of what we do as community champions is to show people the power they have to change things. I want people to see that by taking responsibility for themselves, and where they live, they can change things for the better.”
‘Coming together to solve problems’
Peter Mason, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for prosperity, skills, employment and transformation, said: “The Northolt Library Hub is a fantastic example of a community coming together to solve problems. Using our Future Ealing programme, we want to encourage more local people to get involved and give back to their communities and I hope that David and Elizabeth’s stories inspire people to see what they can do.”
To find out more about the Northolt Library Hub and to see how you can volunteer, or get advice, go to Greenford, Northolt and Perivale Community Forum website.
You can do it too
There are lots of ways to help your community, from supporting conservation projects to giving a few hours a week to your local library or helping out at a dementia café. Visit the Bubble community website at dosomethinggood.org.uk