This October, Listening Ears will celebrate its 15th year anniversary since registration as a charity in 2006. Through our various projects, we have provided support to many thousands of Greenwich residents and beyond. From our young women’s project (Rosebud Centre) to our elderly people’s weekly socials (Feel Good Centre) to our volunteer-led befriending project (Community Angels) and our virtual discussion platform (Let’s Share It) we have continued to reach out to the most vulnerable members of the community.
Rosebud Centre was wrapped up in 2020 after ten years in operation as a full-time centre for under 19s, supporting more than 800 girls with funding from the Community Fund (Big Lottery), BBC Children in Need and many others.
For adults, our most prominent project in the borough is the Feel Good Centre – a social group encouraging interaction and cultural exchanges among over 50s to help combat isolation and address health inequities. Through physical activities, gentle exercises, health and wellbeing workshops, day trips and events, the centre which was established in 2006 at Abbey Wood Community Centre has supported more than 2,500 people to date. In 2018, we launched at the second location in partnership with Peabody – Feel Good at the Atrium in Thamesmead. View photos from the event in our Facebook gallery
To mark our 10-year anniversary in 2016, Listening Ears hosted an event attended by our members, partner organisations, collaborators, donors and funders
In the last eighteen months, we have seen an increase in demand for our services, particularly as the pandemic exacerbated the levels of isolation, loneliness and depression for many. Thanks to our funders and donors, we have been able to continue to provide emotional support as well as critical food supply to those who need it most. Through the support of Sainsbury’s, who in 2018 selected Listening Ears as its front-of-house charity in its Abbey Wood store, we have been able to donate non-perishable foods to all our members and those enrolled on our food bank programme. Our mini-bus donated by Annington Homes in 2019 has been the primary vehicle for carrying out these delivery rounds in the Woolwich area extending to Thamesmead, Lewisham, Eltham, Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Kidbrooke and other parts of Greenwich.
Having held our weekly socials for the elderly since 2006, we were compelled to transition online in March 2020 as the pandemic struck. This enabled us to provide our members with computer literacy skills through online workshops (in collaboration with Ravensbourne University) and those suffering financial hardship were each given a tablet device to access the internet and the weekly socials on Zoom. With the average age of our members in the Feel Good project being 70 years, the online social platform created an opportunity for many to learn and practice their computer and tech skills, take part in gentle exercise sessions and learn new skills such as cooking, self-care and weaving.
Our Community Angels project, which connects volunteer befrienders with our members was streamlined into a telephone service as home visits were paused. Consequently, we launched a discussion platform #LetsShareIt a weekly virtual forum to discuss mental wellbeing, healthy eating, mindfulness, self care and emotional health. To date we have run more than 50 sessions with the initial 25 sessions made public on our YouTube channel.
As the cost of living rises and people lead increasingly isolated lives, we are working to extend our reach even further to include those with limited access to online spaces. Since October 2021, our weekly socials for over 50s have resumed in person and attendance numbers are growing steadily. For those in highly vulnerable categories, we continue to run the online sessions weekly to provide an alternative for those who are shielding or isolating at home.
In the coming months, we are hoping to raise funds to upgrade our mini-bus to a low-emissions vehicle for continued use in London following the ULEZ restrictions imposed in 2021. Donors can make a one-off donation or sign up as a monthly partner through Direct Debit. As a small grassroots charity, your donations go directly into funding projects and towards benefitting those who need it most. Our annual accounts to date can be found on the Charities Commission website.