Tag Archives: health

Supporting the wider community

26 Mar

In our work with Opportunity Plus, we have come across some truly fantastic community centres and groups, and we want to share some of the great work that is happening out there.

Does your community group need some support? 

Here are some of the things that we can do for you:

  • Create a Facebook page for your community and teach you how to use it
  • Offer free face painting at fundraising and other events
  • Feature you on our blog.
  • Get in touch to see how we could help your centre.


Balloons work with bereaved children in the Exeter area to help them through the grieving and healing process.  They have volunteering opportunities available and offer full training.  Find out more at www.balloonscharity.co.uk

The Hub Yeovil

The Hub Yeovil is a community centre working with disabled people.  They run a range of microenterprises to teach members valuable life and enterprise skills.  www.thehubyeovil.co.uk

Healthy Babies UK

Healthy Babies UK provide training to healthcare professionals, children’s centre staff, nursery workers and mothers to support the health, development, and wellbeing of babies and young children.  www.healthy-babies-uk.org

The Money Advice Service

If you have any questions about money – investments, debt, budgeting – then the Money Advice Service can help.  Call them on 0300 500 5000 for free advice and support.


The Education and Training Level 3 course has replaced the old Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Sector qualification, and enables you to teach anything that you are qualified or experienced in to adults (16+).  Information, Advice and Guidance is another useful qualification for the community sector.  Call us or email info@opsw.co.uk for more information.

What community centres do you use?  Why not visit your local centre to find out more about what they do and get involved!  Check out www.do-it.org or your local CVS office to find out if there are any volunteering opportunities near you.


Bye Bye Chloe

10 Mar

After 18 months at Opportunity Plus South West, I am moving on to pastures new.  Back in October, I attended an Opening Event at the new offices for the Citizens Advice Bureau in Teignbridge, where I met Tina Graham from Volunteering in Health.  I found out more about the charity and their great work, and when a job vacancy came up in February I couldn’t resist the chance to become part of the team.  I will be starting on Monday 17th March and my new role will be Volunteer Coordinator, and I will also be coordinating the charity’s new Home Help Service.

I will be looking to recruit new volunteers in the Teignbridge area, to befriend elderly people, and drive people to hospital appointments.  There will also be opportunities for people looking to gain administration skills or help out with events and fundraising – so please give me a call on 01626 774484 if you are interested in volunteering.

But it’s not just volunteers I’m after, there will also be opportunities for people who want to become self employed cleaners or handymen, with the backing of Volunteering in Health.  Please call 01626 774484 for more information.  Don’t forget Opportunity Plus can help you to get set up too – just call 0800 043 2440.

I’m sad to leave Opportunity Plus, but looking forward to getting started on a new project.

Dawlish Triathlon

25 Sep

This summer was so glorious, we were lucky enough to spend a lot of time at the beach.  There seemed to be a constant stream of people swimming in the sea (and I mean swimming, not running in and screeching “it’s too cold” and coming back out almost immediately, which is my preferred method of swimming in the sea), and running and cycling along the seafront (and beyond of course, I just don’t venture too far from the beach).

This Sunday it is the Dawlish Triathlon, a gruelling and very popular race starting with a 750m sea swim, followed by a 21.5k cycle, and a 5k run.  I feel tired just thinking about it!!  Hundreds of people have signed up and put in a lot of time and effort training for it, for their own personal goals, and also to fundraise for various charities.

Several of my friends are part of the 40 strong Helen’s Tri-Hards Team, who have trained together and are collecting sponsorship for local charity, The Helen Foundation.  The Helen Foundation support the artistic aspirations of young people aged 7-19 years who live in Teignbridge, by providing prizes in schools, arts based workshops, individual bursaries and funding for special arts projects.  The charity was set up in 2006 as a living memorial to a local actor, Helen Kirk, who tragically died aged 24 after a road accident.

If you would like to donate to the Tri-Hards team, visit their Just Giving Page here.  Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Good Luck to everyone on Sunday!


Voyage Fairtrade

7 Feb

Sam Birtwistle was one of the winners of last year’s Big Ideas competition. His business, Voyage Fairtrade, started off selling fairtrade and ethical jewellery handmade by artisans from all over the world.  Now, he has expanded his range to other ornaments and practical items for use around the home.  Here Sam tells us more about his business and how he got started.

Voyage Fairtrade

What is Voyage Fairtrade?

Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods from ornaments to practical home items.  The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible.  This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.   

What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?

I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries.  With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.

What was your inspiration to start your own business?

I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16.  I was working in my first job in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!

What is the best thing about running your own business?

You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything. You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!

What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?

I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it. My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!

What advice would you give to young people considering self-employment?

I would say to people: anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications!  I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off. I have other disabilities too, my balance and coordination are quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business! So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!

You can find Voyage Fairtrade on Facebook