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Leicestershire Community Calendar 2012

LASS’s Social Enterprise Well For Living launched a new initiative to help raise funds and awareness for Community Organisations and Charities.

Twelve different organisations, came together and developed a Community Calendar designed to encourage community involvement and help raise funds in this difficult climate.   The calendar also highlights important dates for the sector, such as Volunteers Week.

All Charities featured work to improve the lives of people living in Leicester and Leicestershire, and all are featured together in a calendar to display their good work throughput the year.

Read more about it at Well For Living.  http://www.wellforliving.co.uk/

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World AIDS Day 2011: LASS In The News – ITV1 Julie’s Real Story and Our Free Rapid HIV Testing Service!

We are pleased publish our local advert to promote HIV testing, in our office location in Leicester Town Centre, on Regent Road.

This advert speaks with 15 languages internationally.  This advert cost marginally and considerably less than the Governments 1987 “Tombstone” Advert.

Our message is clear, it is better to know your own HIV status and you can get a HIV test at LASS, and have the result within a minute!

Our team of volunteers have specialist training to provide a free and confidential test, we also have a fantastic support team to provide after-care and further information if required.  We also have established network links so we can refer to more specialist agencies all around Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland so you can be sure to get expert advice for your needs.

We also have a support group called LhivE, a group of people from Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland who are living with HIV.  Living with HIV brings a whole set of its own issues and LhivE demonstrate that people living with HIV can lead fulfilling and safe lives with choices.

We hope you like our new advert and hope that you’ll feel comfortable to contact us if you would like a free and confidential test.

The city of Leicester has the fastest-rising HIV rate in the east Midlands and the sixth-highest in the country.

Meanwhile, in 2009/10, national research demonstrated that community testing was effective in delivering tests to those at risk, preventing late diagnosis and thereby reducing onward transmission. As there was no such community testing service in Leicester, we set about creating one!

It is the training of our volunteers which makes the project unique as a method of engaging with specific African communities which are considered to have a high need.  As well as delivering courses to train volunteers to carry out tests among Zimbabwean and Congolese community groups, we also provide a safe and confidential place for people to receive a test.

Our volunteers have created a 50-second advert promoting the value of knowing your HIV status in 15 languages.

We have delivered more than 400 tests, more than half of which are to the BME communities in the region.  While the first phase of the project involved delivering tests only from our building, funding has ensured  we can use our van to take testing to more venues across Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland.

We were delighted to be highly commended by the Charity Awards, the UK charity sector’s most prestigious awards scheme earlier this year, after being short-listed in the Healthcare & Medical Research category.   This means we have been judged to be of the best 32 Charities in the whole country. Our sincere thanks go to all our service users, volunteers, staff and people in partner organisations who are the real reason we have achieved such a magnificent accolade. Community based HIV testing and our advertisement for this service were the basis of for our application.

WIDESPREAD TESTING IS URGENTLY NEEDED – Health Protection Agency.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) predicts that unless more focus is given to HIV prevention and routine testing, more people could become infected.

It is 30 years since the first case of HIV was formally diagnosed, and since then there have been several major breakthroughs in medical treatment resulting in longer life expectancy for those infected by the virus.

But some medical experts now believe because of the success of anti viral drugs in prolonging the lives of carriers, it has led to complacency.

HPA figures show that in the last three decades 115,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in the UK alone, with 27,000 people having gone on to develop full-blown Aids – and 20,000 of those having since died.

We need a complete and wholesome approach to treating HIV and most importantly help prevent its spread – Dr Rupert Whitaker, a long-standing HIV survivor

But what is worrying the medical profession and campaign pressure groups is that, despite all the medical advances over the last three decades, the number of HIV cases in the UK is expected to rise next year to 100,000 and some of those cases will be people who do not yet realise they have been infected by the virus.

Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, believes widespread testing is urgently needed to help get new cases diagnosed.

“It is so crucial when treating someone who is HIV positive as quickly as possible. That way their lives can be prolonged considerably,” she said.

“Provided someone is tested within the early stages of infection, so they have only had HIV for a short time, and they receive effective medication followed up by effective therapy, then their life expectancy is very good.

“In fact we can safely say HIV is no longer a life threatening illness but a chronic life long condition which if treated correctly can mean people can live to their normal life expectancy.”

LASS are registered for JustTextGiving which enables supporters to make donations of up to £10 by text message.

It’s easy to donate to LASS, and it takes no time at all, simply text: “LASS25 £10″ to 70070.  (You can change the amount of your donation to: £1, £2, £3, £4 or £5 if you prefer) and you’ll receive a text message receipt, and the chance to add Gift Aid by text or in web form.  More details are available from this link.

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LASS Secures Funding To Help Make The Big Society A Reality In The East Midlands.

LASS has secured funding of £49,000 from the Skills Funding Agency as part of the new Adult and Community Learning Fund, to help people living with HIV to get back into training, volunteering and work through personal development and skills and confidence building.

The Adult and Community Learning Fund, from the Skills Funding Agency and managed by NIACE, will contribute to the Government’s aspirations for Informal Adult and Community Learning. The fund will help build the Big Society through learning to support independence, personal development, mental/physical health and well-being, digital inclusion, democratic engagement, social cohesion and stronger families and communities.

The BOLD (Better Off Learning Directly) project at LASS will work with 32 people in the city, county and other regional centres. It will provide intensive eight week courses to help people build skills and confidence, as well as knowledge, to help them re-engage in education and work. Skills in managing their HIV status will also be a key part of the programme. After the eight weeks participants will also have the option to go on to further training as mentors, ‘expert patients’ (people who have enhanced knowledge as to how to manage their long term condition) and even to train as trainers of expert patients.

Jenny Hand, Chief Executive Officer of LASS, comments:

“LASS is delighted to be the only successful bidder locally for this funding. The opportunities BOLD presents for local people living with HIV are very exciting. Often people become isolated and experience significant loss of confidence when they are diagnosed with HIV. BOLD will help them regain their confidence and realise that today, with the proper care and self-management, they can live normal, healthy lives for many years to come.”

Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said:

“Each project that has secured funding from the Adult and Community Learning Fund will make a tremendous difference to the lives of individuals and to the communities they are part of. Skills and lifelong learning should be at the heart of every community and the Government is committed to making that happen with its vision for the Big Society.”

Carol Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of NIACE, added,

“NIACE is proud to have the role of supporting Skills Funding Agency in managing the Adult and Community Learning Fund. The response to this bid has been staggering – we received over 2400 bids. Deciding which of the projects should receive funding has been incredibly tough, however this means that the very best projects will be starting work soon and transforming the lives of local people and local communities.”

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Consultation To Start On Managing Urgent Care In Loughborough

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on the Walk-In Centre and the future of urgent care in Loughborough and surrounding areas.

West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (WLCCG), which will be responsible for commissioning or ‘buying’ local healthcare from April 2013, has been looking at urgent care services locally and how they are provided.

The CCG wants to ensure that when people need urgent care they can receive it as effectively as possible, whilst looking to work with other parts of the NHS to ensure that local services such as the community hospital are as effective as possible in bringing care closer to home.

As part of this a 12-week public consultation started last Wednesday (19 October) [Ed: We only received this news today, sorry for the delay], which offers two options:

· Option one is urgent care at the current Walk-In Centre at Pinfold Gate

· Option two is urgent care provided at Loughborough Hospital in Epinal Way

Option two is the preferred option as the hospital, which is 1.6 miles from Pinfold Gate, can provide more access to diagnostic tests, including more extended access to x-rays, potential access to ultrasound scans and blood tests. There are also beds where there is potential for patients to be kept in for observation and further potential for access to clinicians already working in the hospital.

Dr Nick Willmott, a GP and chairman of the group planning the development of urgent care in West Leicestershire, said: “This consultation is about enhancing services and making sure that patients receive the best care in the most appropriate setting for their health needs.

“We believe that our plans will provide an enhanced service for those who need urgent care, whilst we continue to encourage people to see their GPs when possible for less urgent needs.  Moving the Walk-In Centre could bring care closer to home for many patients accessing the urgent care service and could mean they wouldn’t have to travel into Leicester. It would also avoid duplication of services locally.”

Dr Edward Clode-Baker, of Parkview Surgery, added:

“GPs want, wherever possible, to be the first port of call if you’re in doubt about what care you need. We are doing all we can to improve access both to telephone advice and seeing patients appropriately. This will free up services at the Walk-In Centre to treat those with urgent need.”

The project group developing the proposals included GPs, a representative of Leicestershire Local Involvement Network (LINk), a patient representative, and officers of the West Leicestershire CCG. Feedback has also been received from staff at the Walk-In Centre, local government colleagues and the local MP. Leicestershire LINk has been involved in the consultation process and the engagement event held in August, and will be monitoring developments closely on behalf of patients and the public.

NHS West Midlands Clinical Commissioning Group have produced a document: “Loughborough Walk-In Centre, Managing Urgent Care In Loughborough – A Public Consultation” (pdf).  This document gives you the background to their public consultation about the Walk-In Centre and urgent care in Loughborough.

The Walk-In Centre provides urgent care services in Pinfold Gate for people living in or near Loughborough. they have proposals about how people can receive these services in future, and we need to understand what local people think about these proposals. They propose to create an urgent care centre
at Loughborough Hospital which will be supported by all the services available at
that centre. We believe this will produce an enhanced service for the local population with the coming together of the professional expertise and diagnostic services that can be provided by Loughborough Hospital. This can only be achieved by the movement of the Walk-In Centre and the resources that
support it.

Please take a few moments to read through the document, and then to answer the questions at the end.  The information and questionnaire are also
available online, at http://www.lcr.nhs.uk

During the consultation people will be able to have their say in a questionnaire which will be available from the Walk-In Centre, local libraries, GP surgeries and council buildings, as well as online by visiting http://www.lcr.nhs.uk before 11 January 2012. It will also be available to fill in at a series of public meetings, which take place on:

For more information, or to request a questionnaire via post, please call Jo Lilley on 0116 295 7626 or email jo.lilley@lcr.nhs.uk

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Leicestershire Community Calendar 2012

LASS’s Social Enterprise Well For Living launched a new initiative to help raise funds and awareness for Community Organisations and Charities.

Twelve different organisations, came together and developed a Community Calendar designed to encourage community involvement and help raise funds in this difficult climate.   The calendar also highlights important dates for the sector, such as Volunteers Week.

All Charities featured work to improve the lives of people living in Leicester and Leicestershire, and all are featured together in a calendar to display their good work throughput the year.

Read more about it at Well For Living.  http://www.wellforliving.co.uk/

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Fancy a Curry? – Join Us For Social Evening At The Cuisine Of India Restaurant

Syed Rahman, who runs the Cuisine Of India restaurant is hoping to raise £100,000 for local charity by hosting Curry Nights.  In the last three years he’s managed to raise a whopping £20,000 for charities such as Save The Children, Derbyshire Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, The Laura Centre, Loros and many more.

Last year, LASS enjoyed a social evening of delicious food with friends and raised around £500 which assist our causes, namely, Foodbank, The David Manley Fund and Winnie’s Fund for Children.

The money is raised by special events held at Cuisine of India where groups of people pay £16 each for a meal and half the money from each night is donated charity.

Other benefactors include the Motor Neurone Disease Association and thousands of pounds have gone to Children with Cancer, Rainbow’s Children’s Hospice and Breast Cancer Care.

This year, we’re delighted to invite you again to another Curry Night held at the restaurant located at Kelmarsh Avenue, Wigston and if you would like to join us, please call on 0116 2559995 for tickets.

We know from experience that tickets sell quickly, so please book early to avoid disappointment.  Full menu and testimonials are available at Cuisine Of India’s website.

We hope to see you there – 7:30pm on  Monday, 21st November.

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Poverty-Stricken Families Join a Lengthening Queue for Food Handouts

Stuck around the walls of the church hall at St Paul’s in the heart of Leicester is a series of green laminated signs. There’s one for the Centre Project and another for The Bridge.  There’s the Welcome Project, the St Paul’s over-60s group and your very own “Leicestershire AIDS Support Services“, more besides. Stacked up tidily in front of each one, awaiting collection, is food. Lots of it.

Boxes of fresh vegetables sit alongside bags of freshly baked bread; jars of seafood pasta sauce, still under plastic wrap, are tucked in alongside sacks of rice. Each one of these heaps, obtained by the Leicester branch of the food waste charity FareShare, is a marker for chronic hunger; a profound hunger that, as the economic forecasts worsen and the Conservative party meets in Manchester this weekend to argue over what can be done about it, is only deepening.

“There’s a big increase in demand,” says John Russell of the Centre Project, a drop-in project in the heart of Leicester supporting people in need. “We used to feed 30 or 40 people a week. Now it’s 70 or 80.”

Housing provision and benefit rules have changed, he says, and that’s creating need.

Keith Harrold of Project 5000 in Loughborough, which runs a hot food service once a week from a local church, agrees. “People are struggling. Supermarket prices are shooting up and they aren’t coping.”

Yvonne Welford, who runs the over-60s group for St Paul’s, is seeing the same picture. “There’s been a major increase in demand, especially in the last six months, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.”

Poverty has al ways been a fact of life, even in good times. But FareShare is now seeing a serious growth in the number of people without the resources to feed themselves properly that is, experts say, without precedent in modern Britain.

All of the organisations in Leicester that are supplied by FareShare describe themselves as being dependent on the charity, which obtains food from manufacturers and supermarkets that might otherwise end up rotting in landfill sites, and supplies it to groups helping those in need.

Founded in 2004, the charity works from 17 sites in the UK and shifts 3,600 tonnes of food a year, worth more than £8m. In the past 12 months the number of people it feeds has risen from 29,000 to 35,500. The number of organisations signed up to receive food has risen from 600 to 700. And 42% of those organisations are recording increases of up to 50% in demand for their services.

John Willetts, a former NHS trust chief executive and now the volunteer project director for FareShare in Leicester, said: “It’s a constant ramping up in demand all the time. The volume of food we’re distributing has risen from 41 tonnes a year three years ago to 98 tonnes now, and that’s to the same number of organisations.”

He takes me to meet Diana Cank of the community action social project (Casp) in the deprived Northfields district of the city. Much of the food FareShare distributes goes to drop-in centres and homelessness hostels that cook meals on site, but Casp distributes food bags directly to those in need.

“The demand has always been there,” says Cank, a sturdy, cheerful woman who has worked in community care for 25 years. “But that demand has escalated. At the beginning of this year I suddenly realised there were just more people coming. To be honest, I think most people would be shocked by the growing need for basic food.”

Three grandmothers from the estate admit that times are indeed tough. “We’d be lost without the food from here,” says Joan. “It’s the fresh fruit and vegetables that are so good,” says Julie. “The benefits are just not enough to get us through.” Each of them is the matriarch of a family blighted by unemployment and need. “The food from FareShare helps us to make things go further.”

The Joseph’s Storehouse project in Loughborough, run out of a pub that’s been converted into a homelessness hostel, has also seen more and more people coming to its doors for food parcels. “We’ve gone from about a dozen a week to over 100,” says project manager Judith Spence. The main change, she says, is the type of people coming. It used mostly to be single men; now she is seeing many more families.

Bruce Bateson, who acts as carer for his wife and for his young child, knows the pressures families are under. “We’re all unemployed in our household and simply didn’t have enough to feed ourselves,” he says, as though it is a blunt fact of life. So how important is the food? “What I can get here saves me £15 or £20 a week, and that enables me to get other bills paid.”

I ask Spence if there’s been a very recent increase in demand. At first she says no, but then she begins flicking through the list of registered users. Every user of the service has to show they are on benefits to register. Once every three months, she says, she goes through the list and takes off those who haven’t come to them for food in the previous three months.

She squints at the list. “I take it back. In the past three months I haven’t taken anybody off the list, but another 200 have come on. The number of users has doubled.”

The FareShare headquarters is on a light industrial estate in Bermondsey, south London. Here, major food manufacturers and supermarkets deliver their leftovers to an airy warehouse filled with industrial-scale fridges.

Some of it is the result of poor forecasting of demand, resulting in oversupply. Some of it is too close to the use-by date to go on sale, or has a misprint on the labelling or damage to the packaging. The warehouse is stacked with pallets of instant gravy granules and jars of pickled cucumbers. The fridges are filled with boxes of apples and tomatoes, with fresh milk, and a curious amount of jarlsberg cheese.

Because they are there to make use of what the food industry does not want, they can be a repository for anything from the most banal to foie gras parfait and rib-eye steaks.

Lindsay Boswell, the charity’s chief executive, makes no secret of the fact that the original motive was making better use of the environment. “We started out purely interested in liberating waste,” he says. “We are an environmental charity that gets bloody angry about food being wasted.”

Hence much of the early effort lay in getting the supermarkets to admit they were wasting food, and to make use of the surplus rather than use landfill sites to get rid of it.

Despite FareShare’s efforts, it estimates that it only handles 1% of the three million tonnes of food that goes to waste every year. Now, though, the work of the charity has moved on. “We’re clear that alleviation of poverty has become the side that leads. I think most people in this country would assume that generally people can feed themselves. But they can’t.” If all FareShare was concerned with was waste, he says, it could just give food away to commuters. “But that’s not what we’re about. Demand for our food is going up faster than we can source it.”

Its findings are backed by the experiences of the Trussell Trust, a Salisbury-based charity that runs around 100 food banks all over the country, providing emergency supplies to people referred by frontline social services and care agencies. In the past year, it has seen a 50% increase in the number of people the food banks are feeding, from 41,000 a year to 61,500. Part of that, the trust says, is simply due to the expansion of the charity’s work.

“But there is also a definite increase in need,” says Jeremy Ravn, the charity’s food bank network director. “We’re seeing a larger number of younger people who are unable to find work. But there’s also an increase in those who were, for want of a better term, normal working people. Those who have lost jobs or who were running their own businesses and still need to feed their families.”

The problem, he says, is a failure by the welfare state to react quickly enough to need. “There can be a terrible lag between an application for benefits being accepted and the money coming on stream.”

Martin Caraher, professor of food policy at City University London, says recent research confirms what both the Trussell Trust and FareShare are seeing. “There are around 13 million people in Britain living in poverty, which is defined as earnings of 60% of the national average. Of those, four million are suffering nutritionally related consequences. And the big new group who are really suffering are working families.”

FareShare is dependent on volunteers, to help get deliveries in, catalogue them, and then make up the packages for distribution. Each delivery day, community food members are phoned up, told what’s on offer and asked what they would like. Organisations pay a small weekly fee for the service, which is a tiny portion of the cost of the food they receive.

For a day I join the volunteers in London. Out in the van we travel from homeless hostel to drop-in centre to homeless hostel and across to the Refugee Council. At each place the story is the same. More and more people are coming to them for the hot meal service. There are more and more people who need to be fed.

“We couldn’t live without the FareShare deliveries,” says Grant, a resident at an Emmaus community, a halfway house for homeless people coming off the streets. Grant used to be a chef and now helps to cook the meals for his fellow residents. “It makes a serious difference,” he says.

Cecilia Mpamugo, chef at the Refugee Council’s drop-in centre in Brixton, south London, cooks food for at least 100 people a day, many of whom have no other way to get a hot meal. “It’s shameful that the food would otherwise go to waste. And the quality is very, very good.”

So is FareShare part of the solution to Britain’s growing food poverty crisis? Lindsay Boswell thinks not. “We’re in the business of addressing the symptoms without addressing the disease. We are simply part of the alarm system.”

And the warning bells are ringing very loudly indeed. Food poverty is on the rise. The question remains: as politicians and lobbyists wine and dine each other around Manchester this weekend, is anyone listening?

Original Article by at The Guardian

LASS regularly welcomes an NHS Dietician to deliver sessions here at LASS. These sessions include one to one appointments, group discussions and activities where service users have been involved in making healthy smoothies and fruit kebabs!

We have had to make changes to the Foodbank scheme last year due to restraints in funding. Whilst the amount in vouchers has been reduced we are now able to offer a food hamper on collection dates thanks to the food provided by FareShare Leicester. Service users are able to choose from a selection of produce which includes fresh food. Over the last year 74 people have benefited from regular Foodbank payments. Feedback for this change in service has been very positive

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