Community Connectors- LCFC - Dawn June 6th
17th December 2023
About me and how I came to be on this course
I started off doing community development with B-active and Fit-active Braunstone- a 1:1 programme of health and fitness where you did everything with them. Calorie killers a male and fit chicks a female weight group and a teenage lifestyle club were places to come and exercise and either lose, gain or maintain weight and achieve a healthy weight with the support of a group.
I Got cancer 2009 age 38/39. I was very poorly and didn’t think I would make it as the chemotherapy put me in a wheelchair, as after my 5th out of 6 they decided I was allergic to it and I really didn’t think I would make it to my 40th birthday. After chemo came 25 rounds of radiotherapy which is 5 days a week for 5 weeks. I then had my mastectomy to remove my left breast has this was where the cancer was and the size of a lemon at 7.5cms. I did struggle with this as I couldn’t go through with the first date of the operation it was a very traumatic time and my head was a shed so after some counselling I then went through with the operation and then the slow recovery began. However, my passion was to run the London marathon and before my cancer I was actually training for this, but the training took its toll and had to stop due to a knee injury, then to get cancer I thought my dream was over. I eventually got myself out of my wheelchair and got to recover slowly by walking at first, then onto jogging as I am no quitter only a survivor!
My friends were going through a tough time and their son, James, had an untreatable illness, Duchenne muscular dystrophy while I was going through my cancer journey and made me want to fight all the more to help the family that are still going through their ordeal today 13 years later as there is no cure for James and he deteriorates more every time I see him it’s quite soul destroying and makes it hard as a survivor with the guilt of still being here. We decided to do a sponsored triathlon for James gulp having never done this before was a very big challenge as I didn’t like swimming or cycling but loved the running. I was last to finish but got the biggest cheer and my best medal to date, as a conversation straight after this I mentioned about the London marathon and was given a charity place through Muscular Dystrophy for James which was amazing and beyond my wildest dreams. I trained hard and raised as much money as I possibly could and full=filled my dream in 2015 what a day still remember it like yesterday. My bucket List after doing that has become longer and more daring as I have now also done a sky dive with a lady who was 71 and was from the cancer group I attended, I’ve also done an abseil down the Leicester Royal Building for Leicester Hospitals Charity for the neo-natal unit as my Daughter and Granddaughter were both looked after in there, and now want to wing walk as I said I’m no quitter HA HA.
While training for London marathon opportunities came up for running with a club which I did for my training, the opportunity also to become a run leader so I also accepted that and have since taught 18 Couch to 5k groups to get people to run and do 5k parkruns. I also had the opportunity to then become a running coach which due to my lack of confidence didn’t think I would pass so I actually rang up the leader to try and get out of it. However, Angela wouldn’t let me so on the day I was a bag of nerves, watched the other coaches do what they did and I thought I can do that I was last to go but you know what I was the best yee haa, as I actually included the lady with a broken toe into the group so it was so inclusive and I was so proud of that day. I was doing my own running club called Dawn’s Running pals however during the pandemic this took it’s toll with not being allowed in groups, in the group however was a man called Ian who I had Started 1.1 coaching with before as his mental health problems were really bad and wanted to take some action, he took up running and walking football and I didn’t want this to go the same way so we kept up the 1-1 coaching on a park in the fresh air which actually was great and kept us both going with our mental and physical wellbeing.
During the pandemic I turned 50 and should of celebrated being 10 years cancer free, however with the isolation this was not possible in any way at all so as Dawn’s Running Pals we did a virtual relay race for my 10yr cancer free in purple as this is the colour of the group and my favourite too which was a great success and really enjoyable with pictures and a zoom virtual drink at the end.
During the pandemic with not able to work with my running club I replied to an advert for delivery driver for Deserts2Go. I asked what times etc and got the job for 2 years. Best thing I could have done as until this time 1. I didn’t like driving 2. Didn’t know my way around Leicester – however I loved meeting people. This experience gave me the confidence to do what I am doing today. Driving everywhere through pandemic I learnt to use sat nav, calculate how much change from the orders would be, help put the orders together when on busy periods, go shopping for ingredients, my confidence grew as I did get to know where I was going and felt part of a great team. The boss of Desserts2go was Vicky who actually is James’s sister I have a lot to thank her for as the first night I couldn’t find an address and took ages and Vicky was too busy to answer the phone and I didn’t really know anyone to ask then at the time, I did find eventually and dreaded going back to base I was in tears however, I was sent out again and got through the end of the shift and was asked back so thank you Vicky for believing in me and giving me the chance to carry on. During the pandemic we were so busy we had 5 drivers a night going in and out however it then become really slow and only needed 2 drivers so lucky for me I had opportunities while doing this job and had gotten me to where I am now.
On International Women’s Day 2021 I did ‘This Girl Can’. There was snow on the ground and everywhere still shut down. I took Ian (who I was doing the 1;1 coaching) with me, and the BBC East Midlands News covered the story. Lots of people saw it, the messages and shares on Facebook were hundreds and that’s how Leicester City saw me. Daz, James’s Dad was on the LCFC AGM committee, Sarah my boss mentioned in the meeting how she was wanting to do a C25K and Daz mentioned me in the meeting and Sarah said really the lady from the news he said “yes” and numbers were exchanged, Sarah and I had a meeting and 2 years later wow things I’ve achieved since then is mind blowing.
I started with This Girl Can and a C25K programme as a joint venture with Leicester City in the Community, however the programme was only 9 weeks long and wasn’t expecting any more work however Sarah saw the best in me and the positives I can bring to things so asked if I would join as a casual coach which started as a 1 hour a week doing a run/walk group. I was then was asked to help with a coffee morning and few more things, eventually the manager over Sarah called Matt approached me to see if I would like more hours. I felt very honoured as it is working project 15, we work with 15 (now have a list as long as your arm with the cost oof living crisis), hard to reach families and get them to engage in the sessions that I or LCITC deliver. I started October last year and the progress that has been made and the confidence of some of the parents is awe inspiring to watch before your very eyes it really is a privilege to work with them and I love doing what I am doing.
Thankfully relegation hasn’t had an impact on the project straight the way like we first thought and have new funding in place till next July at least with a few changes to the session and keeping me in the role also. I am hoping that with the community connectors course, knowledge and tools I can help to start to think how this programme can be sustainable and capture what we have done to bring in even more funding as there are more than the families we are working with out there, find the strengths in others to be able to also volunteer and help keep the project going with their knowledge and understanding while helping others. Since June when I first did this story we have now 2 volunteers from the project as they want to give back what they have received and are smashing it with other families. I too have built better bonds with some of the families I have found really hard to connect with and their children.\
Me and the Programme
Sarah my boss put me forward for the course. I’m really enjoying it though Sarah didn’t realise it was going to be this long when I first started the course!
I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and the connections with other centres, communities, service users and enjoyed exploring new buildings for venues to be used with groups in the future– I’m hoping to work with the Emerald centre to do a Couch 2 5k hopefully sometime next year fingers crossed they let me.
I think the tools are fantastic. I love the Daily Spiral and next week am planning to get everyone making What birds at our silver foxes coffee morning that’s in New parks.
Yesterday while working with someone with mental health, she asked me a ‘What do you think?’ I then used the same question back to her so she could trust her own thinking. I’ll do the What bird with her next time we meet. I am planning to use thinking caps with my grandsons.
I’m also doing a Healthy Goals training course and it’s good to see how they all connect and relate in several ways with how they overlap, especially with the making their own decisions using their own strengths and skills to achieve what it is they want not what I want.
Something that shows how the course is helping my personal confidence.
This is personal and happening in my life right now unfortunately.
My 2 Grandchildren have been placed on a child protection order.
I went to a meeting on the 28/4/23 this was via zoom (I hate zoom and tech with a passion) with the social worker, Scarlett’s nursery teacher, Olivers head teacher and class teacher my Daughter’s partner. To start with I was there taking notes of the facts and things that were being discussed about an incident with Oliver that was took to make it look like an issue with Parent’s and nothing to do with the school. (I immediately shook my head and become quite cross). Normally I would butt in, actually more like an outburst and shout at this point and have my say however I had a wave of calm come over me continued with my note taking and waited patiently for when I had an opportunity to then challenge it Instead of bursting out. The opportunity did arise as the social worker asked if I had anything to say and I brought up the incident with my notes, date and time and explained everything that had happened to the latter with a witness named as well of exactly how it happened, why it happened, how long it lasted and the what next, I was calm, assertive as I was the voice of Oliver and my Daughter as she couldn’t attend.
The school are not doing enough for Oliver in my opinion so this was a chance for high ranking people to see that, she was also late for the meeting making us all wait too. School did have to retract their story and agree with what I actually said, my aim to make school look like a grudge against the parents and to some degree this came across. The emotions of that was immense I shook for the rest of the day as I was so proud of actually standing up for something instead of just listening and doing nothing about it, not backing down either it was a very empowering moment and it’s all down to this course, my boss and the work I do with the families.
It’s amazing what you can do when you believe in yourself, achieve more than you thought you could and dream the impossible but actually do it with tools, analogies, words and pictures and a cuppa always helps too.
I told the course of this in one of the sessions and I was really nervous before starting. But I think I did well, and it seems to have helped some people who were there to help them also become assertive and make their own decisions. I’m now even questioning my boss about things, learning to say things e.g. when she wanted me to do an extra day recently I said no, to give myself a life.
Now my ideas and things I put forward that I would like to try or need to do are now being taken on board, I am being given more freedom in what I do as the outcomes now speak for themselves now that I’m equipped with tools, understanding, knowledge, assertiveness, confidence and above me actually being ME.
When Angie came in to talk about her work I got very worked up and angry re-funding. However, I now realise that we need funding for our projects to be able to deliver them, but it’s how we adapt what we deliver and not just a tick boxing exercise, for the people with the people that’s the difference now for achieving the end goal.
Ian and Deena are both very friendly, very approachable, nothing’s too much trouble, great teachers, down to earth, make you feel valued as a person, can also be very cheeky ha ha. They’re the people who make you want to do your homework, move boulders for and would do anything for. They do things very differently and they’re fascinating and believe you have the power to do anything.
I’ve not read the book YET and like to reflect which I do not do enough of written down however doing this is a great way so may do this way in future it’s great to look back on and see how far you’ve come.
My work on New Parks at Team Hub
At Team Hub I am running a fitness group and now do a little work involving healthy goals. It came about from building relationships in the centre and the people asked for it so it happened.
I’m now involved a lot more at The Hub as now do a Tuesday morning chatterbox with the parents and children this is now also an extra session for Project 15 that I am engaged with and making good rapport with the families that are now attending other sessions that I also deliver which is brilliant. These are tots football Monday am, Tuesday exercise session pm (which Deena and Ian are going to come and see in the new year), messy play on a Wednesday am and Thursday morning family swim.
I’ve worked in New Parks since last October when I started on Project 15. Before this I was working casually doing run/walk groups as I am a qualified running coach this is how the journey with LCFC started. July 2022 LCFC and This Girl Can was a partnership to do Couch to 5k and was asked to lead the sessions with Sarah’s help. We did a 9-week course using the NHS app and ran/walked round Abbey Park Leicester which we then graduated with a parkrun at the end. When the 9 weeks ended, I thought that would be the end of it all however Sarah saw my potential (that I still struggle with at times although this is now getting less) and wondered if I would come aboard casually which I jumped at the chance of course.
This then led to do more things and get involved with like coffee mornings, run/walk sessions, mental health drop in café, silver foxes 50+ coffee afternoons, trips out and during the summer we did a roadshow with lots of different activities and I really enjoyed this as it was meeting new families, working in a new area, doing different things, using different skills and being part of a great team.
I was then approached by Matt a co-ordinator at LCFC to see if I wanted more hours and if I would be interested in a project, I said I would just not full-time as I was also delivering couch to 5k for Loughborough County Council and Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Council in the evenings. The hours were 22.5 per week working on project 15, however there were 2 big obstacles for this.
1. Was an application form, bearing in mind it has been over 10 years since my last job after having breast cancer (how I become less confident, assertive, bubbly and really low self-esteem). Matt simply said “we can help you with that” ok I said and it was Sarah in fact ad Bec from the Hub as that’s how our partnership started, as she too had to fill in an application form for her role as this was also a partnership for Project 15 and wanted me to work with her, in fact I just said what I thought and Bec simply wrote it on the form just in a more professional way. This was sent in then the next obstacle
2. Interview - now this I was a wreck, petrified and the doubts really set in as I’ve always been no good at these since I’ve left school as he nerves just kick in and I go to pot, I know what’s in my head but doesn’t always come out verbally I just ramble. Sarah was the reassuring one and said take in notes if you need to and look at what LCFC are looking for and what strengths and skills you have as Sarah knew exactly what I had however the people in the room didn’t and that’s the key. The day of the interview I was actually in the King Power Stadium doing something with Sarah I had taken everything I needed with me for the interview it was a great distraction until it was crunch time. I went in the room armed with my notes, certificates and a familiar face along with one I didn’t know as well. They made it so easy asking a question that I was passionate about just got the juices flowing and my notes well I didn’t even need them in the end was like just having a conversation with a coffee ha ha. At the end though when they said “we will let you know” my face and whole body sank as I don’t do waiting very well as I got up to leave the room Sarah and Luke said “ Dawn Your Hired” the feeling of achieving was awesome I couldn’t quite believe it.
I’ve come along way since then the journey in a year has been pretty empowering and phonemenial to say the least I hardly recognise myself these days who said life doesn’t begin at 53.
Back to my own personal family as this has been ongoing throughout the year however, things are slowly progressing forward, I finally feel I don’t have to bang my head against a brick wall or continue on the Hamster wheel that I have been on for 28 years.
Being confident, listening, using my knowledge and asking the right questions to school and all other professional authorities that throw their weight about and think they know best have actually taken on board everything that I have said, experiences used, knowledge and facts that have been given, voicing our opinions (Mum, Dad and I), built a rapport with the social worker who thinks I should become one has even I put doubts in her head re school with the way I worded questions so getting her onboard too was an asset to the family, even my Daughter and her partner too have become calmer and expressing themselves in a much more confident manner.
We have also become a really strong unit, and of course Bec the family support worker who I work alongside with on Project 15 also has given me sound advice and how to word things as she deals with this on a day to day basis.
This has helped to drive forward finally getting the help I need for my Grandson and the support that the parents also need to be able to function as a family. We are now beginning to see professionals re my Grandson and at the point of getting him diagnosed so the right support will become available. Today the 4th of December we finally got some medication that will help my Grandson finally get some sleep so the whole family will get some sleep and be able to function much better. (had a text at 8pm Asleep WOW) They are also now off their Child Protection Order as well things are slowly and surely looking brighter; I’ve also voiced that the support doesn’t stop otherwise we will go back again it needs to be there for the foreseeable and continue until we have all the support from the right places in place.
I like LCFC staff and the premises at King power are amazing, love it when we have a team meeting get to see everyone from the team that you don’t get to work with and catch up. New Parks has much more of a community feel than Anstey where I live. The struggles people have here brings them together and they help each other out. Everyone is in the same dire straits. It feels like a family.
In my work I have permission simply to ‘be around’ – to rock up, see what’s going on, listen to people. I got that from my coaching. It’s about connecting.
My main focus is Project 15, working with 15 families who are experiencing difficulties in different ways like finances, housing, not engaging in activities, food, clothing for the children, toys, a lot of the families are referred from social services or word of mouth that someone is worried about. 15 families are what we are working with however in New Parks there are far more needing our help and the list keeps growing with the cost-of-living crisis. The families are from New Parks. Some knew each other but a lot didn’t know each other when they started to come to the sessions that we deliver for them, however they have all become each other’s support, help each other when they are feeling blue, in need of something or arranging a breakfast meet up, and arranging for the kids to meet up as soon have become really good friends again another fantastic gain from the project it’s great how far they too have come on in the space of a year or even less some of them.
Project 15 is also being delivered by Aura in St Matthews –I met Aura on the same day of our induction at LCFC and Aura means Dawn in Venezuelan that was the ice breaker. I now work with Aura in Spinny Hill delivering an exercise class to Active Women. We both love it and helps to keep that connection alive, and we bounce of each other with ideas, energy and confidence having been on the course together. I’ve helped listen to Aura through a difficult time too having experienced it myself also a listening ear is sometimes all that is needed oh and a hug of course.
We do lot of building a rapport with the families and the children of course. Me gaining their confidence and them gaining confidence in participating, finding their need and helping them meet this. I work with Bec at The Hub on Project 15, she is a family support worker she can help people with food, beds, carpets and does all the groundwork. She is brilliant and helped me and the families loads if you want something doing then Bec will have it done like yesterday.
Michelle used the food bank but couldn’t really cook. So Project 15 put on some cooking sessions with Sue who was absolutely brilliant at what she does.( I was really stressed about doing this however Sue took charge let them take ownership of what they were cooking and just made it an absolute joy and pleasure to do the cooking of course the proof was in the taste and everything they made was amazing) Michelle, she now loves to cook and has a cupboard full of herbs and spices which is fantastic and has since been a LCFC case study which was shown at an awards night as Project 15 was nominated, she is still growing and doing amazing her study is still ongoing. Ethan is Michelle’s son – he is 3 and has autism, they didn’t attend the tots session to begin with as he is autistic, and Michelle didn’t think he would like it as he wouldn’t join in (her words) I just told her to bring him along and see how it goes everything is always worth a try now he loved it, just running around in a big open space it didn’t matter if in interacted or not with anything or one he was there and Michelle then attended regularly with Ethan.
He came to a session recently and actually held my hand while we walked and ran to the room. It’s the little things that are humongous steps. One of the other children, Margo wouldn’t say boo to a goose, she wouldn’t talk, interact with you, look at you or even look at what was going on around her. Now you get cuddles, giggles, eye contact even interaction with other parents, children and with the footballs and other equipment we have in the room. She is trying to talk with odd words and is always smiling she is such a delight and is now very curious and will go and look at things if she likes it then you know about it. She used to scream at the mascots we had that used to come for visits for special occasions the last one was Filbert Fox himself she was giving him high 5s and was even willing to stroke is bug black nose.
She wouldn't even connect with you but she does all those things now; she will now quite often give me a big smile when she sees me and a hug too and she also is now kicking a football and playing with the equipment where before she would just run round both delightful children that have come along way.
Nathan is also one of our LCFC case studies for Project 15 I didn’t know him very well when I first started has, he had a partner and she used to bring the children to the sessions. However, Nathan has since become a single Dad to 2 beautiful children and WOW he is amazing at it. He comes to all the sessions so have now got to know Nathan quite well and watched him grow in strength, self-esteem, confidence, helps support other families and turns out he is Michelles’s neighbour, so they have built a really string bond which is also fantastic to helping each other. Nathan met 2 of Leicester City football team as this is to help promote the project, this also made sky news and potentially help get more funding to help families just like Nathan and Michelle who are now volunteers for the project, working with the other families, supporting them and watching them grow in their role is fantastic while continuing to grow in confidence and self-esteem.
Michelle also applied for a part time job at The Hub for a mental health support worker she would have been fantastic at this role however this wasn’t to be just yet and what she is doing in her volunteer role is much more valuable and gaining new strengths and skills that will drive her forward. (Watch this space - to be continued).
I need to work on discovering each others’ strengths. Together we’ll make a bloody army!
We made the word PINK in cake! We also had a smaller celebration with the Project 15 group. Elaine is a very vunerable young person who still wears a mask today, at our run/walk sessions she wouldn’t go indoors so we needed to sit outside which we did as a group to make her more comfortable, even in the freezing cold! Some patience, understanding and compassion Elaine has now come along way she is now indoors at sessions, she still wears her mask that is ok, she makes amazing cakes for Birthdays and special occasions like my 300th parkrun. Elaine is now starting to grow in confidence and will now lead some of the warm ups outside. We also did a session on making a what bird at the coffee morning this really was for Elaine as I wanted to discuss something with Elaine and the bird was the best way around it so that it was herself coming up with the ideas and answers that I as a coach wanted to hear, and I believe it has worked thinking wise just the doing now. (So watch this space). I have since done and this and was very helpful in asking what she needed to do and also imagine if she put that into practice, how it would then make her feel to achieve this. Elaine is now seeing and reaping the benefits of this practice in her practical work which is fantastic.
In May I celebrated 13 years being cancer free. We had to organise an event through the one of our community connections session this was an idea that soon became a reality I invited everyone to wear pink and come to Abbey Park for a parkrun/walk this is a big part of my life, and have taught 18 couch to 5k groups and thought it as a great way of connecting everyone that has been apart of my life in some way or another. 100 people all dressed in pink showed up including Sarah and some of the others from work, even my Sister surprised me all the way from Northampton. It was a fab morning, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it even some of the project 15 Mum’s came along.
However, some were really disappointed that they couldn’t make it, so we turned the exercise class into a pink walk. We dressed in pink and took photos around the streets using the letters P I NK and the one with the most creative won a prize which I believe was a box of chocolates. We then all tucked into pink cake and coffee, and I was presented with a beautiful handmade card.
I’ve done so much it’s hard to list it all, I’ve become a Get Active Champion and we had a team building activity which I just got stuck into normally I wouldn’t have a clue thinking I was not brainy, or inter active enough to join in with, even ideas and suggestions normally I just follow the lead.
I’ve also just signed up to become a menopause champion and will be using the ball of string activity when I do my first one as we will all be connected in one way or another with the signs and symptoms so we are all in it together and feel supported this will be in the new year once I’ve had my training.
I feel I am really starting to grow and feel I’ve finally found me again and something that I love doing and worth getting up for in a morning is such an amazing feeling that I have to pinch myself now again to make sure it isn’t a dream.
I love the team at LCFC I work with, Sarah inspires me as does Matt and others have great strengths and ideas that are great to share and learn from. In fact I now get to take the lead on the mental health drop in café and am first point of contact and was shown appreciation last week by a member who bought us some chocolates to say thank you for helping her through a really difficult time and has since taken baby steps to moving forwards with things she thought she couldn’t achieve anymore.
I’m loving being in Team Hub more and really getting stuck in as my hours have been increased again since so it gets the time, attention and dedication that Project 15 needs to go forward and exceed all expectations and excel. Working with the staff more is also helping to build those relationships and connections.
Thank You to
Tagged as: Community Connectors
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