Case studies - what being a champion means to them
Read the following stories from two community champions to see what being a champion means to them.
Maria, 70 years old
Maria, a community champion from Kensington and Chelsea, is a resident in her 70s who lives alone, and is one of the project’s newest champions. In response to champions’ promotional efforts, Maria dropped in on one of the community conversations. This in turn led her to try the weekly community choir over Zoom which she still attends. She soon tried most of the other weekly online activities on offer including the ‘Time of Your Life’ support group for over 55s – all of which she actively encouraged others to join. She commented, “Thanks to these sessions, I no longer feel lonely or isolated as a result of lockdown life”.
Through talking to project manager Matt and some of the champions, Maria expressed an interest in becoming a community champion. She is now volunteering with the project with the intention of supporting older people in the future. Maria said, “I was amazed when I first came across the online sessions and how well supported the local community was through the champions programme. After taking part in many of the online activities, I jumped at the chance to volunteer and become a champion myself. I’ve already started helping over 55s with physical activities and with lockdown easing I’m looking forward to doing so much more whilst I’m being trained up as a champion.”
Cameron, 20 years old
Cameron is a 20-year-old male of white and black mixed Caribbean heritage who has lived in Acton all his life.
“I became a community champion because engaging other young people comes to me quite easily, I have been in and around a youth club before and so I know how to engage other young people and help them achieve their goals. You just have to think about how you make it appealing and relatable.
"Also being a community champion, is an opportunity to learn new things, try new things out and enjoy myself in a working environment. It’s a less formal approach, it’s not boring, we are not teachers, we let them know about the events and opportunities they can take part in - for example making the film, our mental health short “The Cut”, the family fun day in Acton Gardens, creating health podcasts and designing merchandise to promote the “Best for You” mental health website from the NHS.
"It's also important that we listen to young people, it’s not just all like we are telling them what to do, we listen to the things they are struggling with, give support and advice when we can and ensure they know where other support is available.
If anyone else is considering becoming a community champion, I’d say yes go for it; the experience will definitely make a difference to you and those you engage with around health messaging.”