“I’ve been involved with Pathfinder Village near Tedburn St Mary since late last summer when I took on the role as Westbank’s Community Link Worker for the residents there. About 400 people live at Pathfinder on a park home site. Their part-time GP surgery closed during the pandemic and has not re-opened but they still have facilities some villages might envy - a shop, Post Office, church, hairdresser’s and a club with a bar.

Many of the residents use the GP practice in Exeter St Thomas and after consulting with them Westbank put in place an initiative aimed at re-engaging the community as we come out of the pandemic.

Pathfinder Village is in a lovely spot, on the edge of Dartmoor and around eight miles west of Exeter just off the A30.  However, it is a rural location and due to recent cuts to public transport it has made it more challenging for some residents to get about.

We launched our engagement project by inviting residents to a Cream Tea - to meet them, get to know them and find out what we could do to help. From these initial discussions, we set up a number of regular activities to help get people out and about and socialising with others.

Every Monday, the Westbank bus takes a group from Pathfinder to Exeter Quay to join one of our established health walks (with options for more and less mobile walkers). Afterwards, they go on to our centre at Westbank for hot drinks and a bowl of soup in the Warmwell Cafe. Every other Thursday, we hold a Reflections Cafe where people can come along for a cuppa and cake and different activities - quizzes, games, wreath making, poetry reading or just chatting about their memories. We also organise a monthly bus trip for lunch with another social group in St Thomas, set up occasional talks and worked with a local instructor to set up some seated yoga sessions. All of these activities encourage group interaction and participation and people seem to be getting a lot out of the social aspect of things.

Recently, we launched ‘Help with Tech’ sessions that have encouraged a new group of people to engage. They come along with their mobiles or tablets with technology queries like how to organise and store family photos or they may need help to Facetime friends and family.

It takes time to build up trust and rapport with people but the signs that it’s working are encouraging. We've tried different ways to communicate what we do. Feedback shows word-of-mouth is the most popular. As they say, it’s good to talk.

If you would like to find out more about Westbank’s services in your area or would consider supporting our charity through volunteering or by making a donation or legacy, please have a further look around our website. 

Article from The Moorlander newspaper