Your Helping Hands

Your Helping Hands is the charitable arm of our network. We are funded by public bodies with the goal of creating projects which explore the heritage and culture of Wolverhampton’s sometimes isolated or underrepresented communities. The projects we create are focused on raising awareness of the heritage and history of how these communities developed in Wolverhampton.

Our way of doing this is community-led. Your Helping Hands constantly speaks to community leaders and individuals, as well as academics, so that we can direct our projects in ways that serve the community best. Furthermore, we ensure that community members are brought into our projects themselves. This is not only as volunteers, but so that we can provide training in areas of IT and media that they would not otherwise be able to experience.

Furthermore, Your Helping Hands seeks to celebrate aspects of the culture of these communities in ways that are engaging and informative. This includes not only celebrating festivals and holidays which are of a religious or cultural significance to members of our communities, but ensuring that we pay respect to their historical importance, and create projects that are engaging and active.

Finally, Your Helping Hands’ projects aim to use our projects as a way of equipping people, young and old, with vital skills and experience that can provide them with better opportunities as they move forwards with their lives. By using projects which hold personal and emotional significance to our communities, we have developed a way of making sure that as people learn about the heritage, they also learn about its relevance to themselves, through engaging contributions which can move them closer to stability and security in their lives.

Cultural Arts

Cultural Arts enables Your Helping Hands to move its work in directions other than heritage. While still allowing us to be focused on the community, it means that we can celebrate parts of the shared community culture that are distinct from this. For example Cultural Arts has focused on Wolverhampton’s Asian community’s cultural heritage aside from history, such as Holi and Diwali festivals.

However, Cultural Arts’ most crucial contribution to our network is its exploration of how new technologies can affect the heritage and culture which we are seeking to capture, safeguard, and raise awareness of. For example, it was through the research and initiative of Cultural Arts that we have decided upon future directions for Your Helping Hands, in terms of how we gather and manage heritage.

Again here, this is where the methods and aims of each distinct company overlap and combine in order to bring unique experiences to Wolverhampton’s communities. Not only do Cultural Arts provide us with expert strategy of how to move forwards and explore new technologies; it also provides us with new ways of engaging young people through this technology, as well as an opportunity to offer further training into areas which were not previously available to elderly members of our communities. We have found, somewhat surprisingly, that upon discussing these new technologies and how they will be deployed to safeguard and promote community heritage, there was enormous enthusiasm and excitement from elderly members of our communities in terms of getting involved in using these new digital formats.

Finally, Cultural Arts encourages all members of the community who contribute to our projects to specifically design and create content for our online and social media platforms. Through using the direction of Your Helping Hands’ projects and Employment Training Network’s expertise in digital management, Cultural Arts brings members of the community on board to create and tell the stories in the ways they wish it to be told.

Employment Training Network

Employment Training Network’s partnership with Your Helping Hands works through Employment Training Network providing assistance, strategy, equipment and expertise in order that YHH can ensure community participants in our projects receive appropriate and high quality training as our projects move forwards. This is done through a range of activities, and for a variety of purposes.

For example, through our partnership with Employment Training Network, we were able to use the Turban Project as a way of training elderly community members drawn from Bilston Community Centre in basic computer communication and media skills. They helped us to oversee a programme which increased participants’ familiarity with the necessary computer programmes, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, and websites such as YouTube, so that they could gain basic experience in how to manage different types of online media.

Aside from this, the Turban Project also represented a way of assisting young members of the community in digital photography. Using equipment from Employment Training Network, we were able to not only familiarise members of the community with the process of taking photographs, but also their importance as part of recording heritage.

Finally, one of Employment Training Network’s most significant contributions through our partnership has been to assist members of the community for whom English is not their primary language. While individuals we helped through our projects may have had some basic understanding of speaking and listening in English, they often lacked the confidence and familiarity with using English to communicate online to one another. Also, wherever necessary, Employment Training Network’s team of multi-lingual individuals were able to assist those who can often feel isolated and excluded in community work such as this. Wherever we work with communities where individuals have different levels of English capabilities, it is critical that we make sure nobody feels as though they are being left behind – and Employment Training Network’s team were instrumental in ensuring that Your Helping Hands were able to do this.

Health and Well Beams

Health and Well BEAMS operates with a slightly different focus to the other arms of our community network, in that it is concerned exclusively with adult education with a concentration on health concerns.

However, it still forms an important part of our network in the services that it provides, and the different ways it combines with our other companies and charities and its contribution to our overall work. Firstly, the work done by Health and Well BEAMS cooperates with Employment Training Network, in that we discovered that many of the health issues faced by the communities we serve are not only disproportionately affecting the black and ethnic minority communities of Wolverhampton, but that these issues are often made more acute by a lack of knowledge with the English language and ability to research and discover treatment options. Therefore Employment Training Network has a large role to play alongside Health and Well BEAMS, as it tackles the problems of language barriers as well as the isolation that community members can often feel.

When taken together, it combines with Your Helping Hands and Cultural Arts, as through our projects we can aim to create healthier people through our engagements and activities. For instance our projects are often not just an opportunity to learn about culture and heritage, in a way that takes into account challenges with languages, but also provide a way for people to feel active in the community. Indeed, our projects also often provide a chance for community members to become more physically active, bringing together Health and Well BEAMS’ aims of creating healthier and more active community members, but doing so in a way that raises awareness of historical and cultural themes that are relevant to individuals themselves and engages them.