A Report from the Communitas Wellbeing Project
The Communitas Wellbeing Project, one of the projects that has received funding from Together in Service, recently held a networking event to showcase their work in the community of Sparkhill, Birmingham. They have graciously provided us with the following account of the day.
High Praise for Communitas
Maria Gavin of Birmingham City Council and Khalid Mohammed, MP for Perry Barr, gave high praise to the Communitas Wellbeing Project for the elderly at a networking event, attended by some 100 people in the Midlands Arts Centre on Monday 2 June.
Maria Gavin, Assistant Director of the Directorate for People at Birmingham City Council, spoke of joint commissioning, which involves the Council giving financial support to faith groups working in health and wellbeing projects. She said that the Communitas Wellbeing Project was unique; it brings together two different faith groups – Catholics and Muslims – in caring for their elderly people. The result is not only an improvement in wellbeing, but greater cohesion within the community. In the first year of the project, some 550 adults had been helped. Maria spoke of the financial challenges facing the City Council and the importance of finding new ways to continue to support such projects.
Khalid Mohammed, MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, spoke of the importance of faith in people’s lives, and how a project like Communitas “brings together the spiritual and the physical” in its approach to caring for the elderly. Support for people in their homes, rather than institutions, he said, enables them to have their self-respect and dignity. The MP said that he had came across many cases where the voluntary care of people of faith had brought the needs of the elderly to the attention of different public care and health agencies and enabled them to continue to live well. He encouraged Communitas to continue its vital work, because the spiritual needs of people are important when dealing with health and wellbeing.
The participants also heard people from the Catholic and Muslim communities speak of their experience in the Project. One said, “My health has improved”; another, “At home, my health goes down just sitting on the sofa; we look forward to the weekly get-together”. A local GP, Dr Stephanie Moss, who has helped at the Project, said, “Training for Doctors has been hijacked by a secular agenda. Research shows religious and cultural factors need to be taken into account in caring for people.”
The gathering was addressed by a number of other contributors, including Mohammed Khalid, who heads up the Muslim section of the Project, and Mauricio Silva, who leads the English Martyr’s group. Manager McHugh of Birinus Regeneration and Community Development chaired the meeting.