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Engage Somerset: Team thoughts

Engage Somerset 29 October 2022
The Engage Somerset Team

After nine months of delivering wellbeing support to people in Chard, Glastonbury and Highbridge, the Engage Somerset project from Pluss has now come to an end.

We asked the Engage Somerset team to offer up some ‘parting shots’ about their time working on the programme.

Read the thoughts of Project Manager, Lisa and Community Coaches; Charlotte, Josh, Julie and Claire below.

Project Manager, Lisa:

It has been an absolute privilege to have had the opportunity to develop and deliver such an amazing project.

When I reflect on why this has been so successful, the answer is simple: the project has been delivered directly within the community at a real grassroots level, the aim to be visible and present in the heart of the community, and that is what we have done. From church halls, cafes, park benches, libraries and even the local Wetherspoons!

Paperwork and process were kept minimal so our participants felt comfortable from the off, without being overwhelmed by structure and formality.

I couldn’t be prouder of my amazing team of coaches who’ve been there every step of the way with their participants.

Their openness and authenticity, their ability to bring out the best in their participants, to give them hope and opportunity, their infectious positivity and sense of fun as well as their sincere caring and thoughtful nature.

From weekly walking groups, art groups, buggy walks and coffee mornings, confidence and lasting friendships have been formed.

There’s been tears of laughter, frustration, sadness and sheer joy as we’ve celebrated achievements and successes, big and small and have been there to pick up the pieces when things have gone not quite according to plan.

Our partners have been an integral part of the success of the project as have the incredible organisations we have had the opportunity to collaborate with

But this project would be nothing without the participants who believed and put their trust in it – all 440+ of them!

Our tag line was to Inspire Healthy Change and I can say that we have absolutely done that, in so many ways, as participants are now able to continue their journey of continual personal growth and development.

I honestly have not had such a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity as this and although the project is no more, what it has done is re-energise deprived and disconnected communities and we’ve left a fantastic legacy, as friendships flourish, opportunities grow and groups continue to thrive within each community.

Community Coach, Charlotte:

Glastonbury has just been incredible to work in!

The support from the community has been amazing and the participants with whom I have worked have each grown as they have progressed on their journey with us.

I am so proud of each and everyone and the Art and Walking Groups which are now continuing, being led by the community, for the community.

We have both met and lost people along this journey, and some so dear that we will continue to miss them every day, but the strength of the community will continue to grow as it only can in Glastonbury.

I will never experience anything like Glastonbury again, but I am both grateful and inspired to have met so many amazing people during the past nine months and hope I can continue to spread some of that Glastonbury magic.

Community Coach, Josh:

There have been many high moments and bridges built in Highbridge while working on the Engage Somerset project.

There will always be work to do, but that is probably the meaning of life, because without work to do (in any type of capacity and not necessarily employment related) – life would be incredibly boring.

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to work at the heart of heart of the community, especially within Highbridge as I grew up around here.

Highbridge has always been seen as a bit of an afterthought of Burnham (which I love too), but underneath its old exterior, there is a warm community spirit humming away within its churches, schools and community centres which ultimately keep the town alive.

And – just like the river Brue once helped the town thrive during the industrial era – long may the people of Highbridge remain industrious in their important communal efforts.

Community Coach, Julie:

I started with Engage Somerset back in February of this year. I was very dubious to begin with as the role was only for six months and I was leaving a secure job that I had been in for 19 years. However, it turned out that it was the best ‘work decision’ I’ve ever made.

Engage Somerset has been emotional, rewarding, fun, stressful, challenging, and hard work – but so worthwhile! We have literally changed people’s lives beyond all recognition, and I am so proud to say I have been part of that.

Lifelong friendships have been made between participants and I have made new friends along the way too.

The project’s tagline was ‘Inspiring Healthy Change’ but, wow, it’s done that and so much more. For example, one participant who wouldn’t leave the house due to anxiety is now doing voluntary work, working out in the gym and meeting friends for coffee.

Another has set up her own Support Group. When I first met this lady, she literally cried in my arms as she felt so inadequate.

Another lady, who has never taken an exam or had a computer, signed up to Digital College and has now passed her first ever exam!

I could spend all day talking about my wonderful participants and how proud I am of them but, I know I’m only allowed to write a few paragraphs 😊.

So, to sum it up, Engage Somerset has been the best job I have ever had!

But there would have been no job without my participants.

At times they have driven me mad and put my stress levels through the roof but, boy, to see them now and to witness what they have achieved makes me so so proud.

I’d like to thank every one of my participants for believing in me, trusting in me and fighting through their fears.

But more importantly I hope that every one of them will continue their journey, knowing they have the strength to keep Inspiring Healthy Change.

As I’ve always said……… they did all the hard work; I was only there to guide them.


Community Coach, Claire:

Working on the Engage Somerset project in Highbridge has given me great pleasure.

We set out to inspire healthy change, whether that was in the form of individual meetings or group events.

People became involved in the events and engaged with the work we have done.

To leave such a legacy in the community from the work we have done…. that has inspired me to help others in the best way I can. And that’s probably an understatement!

I now encourage the people I worked with to carry on from where Engage Somerset got them to and continue their journey.

Thank you to the people of Highbridge that I met and worked with.

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