CEO, GL11 Community Hub
“There is the potential in every community for this to happen.”
Indigo is CEO of GL11 Community Hub, a charity providing the communities of Cam and Dursley with a huge range of services and activities, from cost-of-living support to weekly activities for everyone.
GL11 was started 21 years ago. Originally a family centre under threat of closure, a group of mums staged a sit in, saved the centre, and reinvented the organisation to support the whole community. Since then, GL11 has evolved to become deeply embedded in the community and has been hailed nationally as an example of best practice. From parenting groups, mental health support, lunches for older people, knit and natter groups, a Men in Sheds project, employment support to money advice, GL11 is a one stop shop for the whole community.
Indigo says: “One of our strengths is our huge network of links throughout the area. This means we can be nimble and react fast to meet the needs of the people who live here. The pandemic was a great example of this. Within a week we completely transformed what we were offering. We were able to quickly set up a support network covering our whole community, allocating two volunteers to every street.”
GL11 was directly supporting 10% of the local community during Covid. It convened hundreds of volunteers and took 3000 calls in April 2020 alone. It delivered 121 digital training to enable people to use technology to stay in touch. It trained and recruited all the volunteers needed to get the local vaccination centre open in a week. This monumental feat does not stand alone. In the months following the pandemic, from actively listening to people, Indigo and her team recognised the growing need for mental health and loneliness support and set up a partnership with local GPs to run counselling and mental health services. This service now responds to 800 referrals per year. Watch films about this and GL11’s other work here.
GL11 is the epitome of a grassroots organisation that has stayed firmly rooted in the community. It is this grounding that is key to its success.
Indigo says: “Everything we do is community-led. We listen and we respond. We have steadily built a loyal, motivated, and caring group of people that volunteer for us, consult with us and team up with us to make things happen. I’d love to see commissioning evolve to be more community-led and to reflect the needs of individual communities and the people in them. Our philosophy is a whole-person approach and in the future, I’d like to see funding streams reflect that too.”
Responding to recent national challenges, GL11 has recently set up specific cost-of-living support, advising people on benefits, employment, energy and housing issues. It also provides a low-cost food pantry and £1 meals in its café.
As well as providing essential services, the charity has a programme of activities that are simply about having fun. It is this holistic approach to wellbeing that makes GL11 the exceptional community organisation that it is.
Indigo has a clear vision for the future: “We want to support other areas across the district to create similar organisations. This must come from within each area, so it is truly community-led. We want to provide advice and share our experiences to enable this to happen.”
For more information on GL11 community hub, take a look at the website, here.