I first came across In-Deep when I met Emma and Colin Chapman earlier in the summer. Colin’s own story is a compelling one: a former rough sleeper in Westminster, where he became friends with the elderly and local residents who were kind enough to help him.
After overcoming his own problems, Colin wanted to do something for the community that helped him when he needed it. This became the In-Deep Community Task Force.
In-Deep is now a registered charity that works with those on low incomes in the inner-city boroughs of Westminster and Lambeth: those with no family, or family that live far away.
A fan of the grass-roots approach, I wanted to help those in my own borough who are often overlooked by their communities, ignored by those around them, going without the help they really need because it’s so hard to find.
With a group of volunteers in a community hall on Grosvenor Estate, Pimlico, In-Deep tackles isolation, poverty and social exclusion. In-Deep has two focuses: the elderly and children with special needs.
Age ain’t nothing but a number
More than 1m older people say they go a month without speaking to a friend, family member or neighbour. As an ageing society it’s likely that more and more of us will feel the strain later in life. One report states that by 2033, 1.1m older people will need care from their families, a 60% increase from now, while there’ll only be 20% more people able to care for them (us).
We will all be old one day, and often those in the later years of their lives don’t have the friends and family close enough to spend time with and talk to. In-Deep attempts to tackle this through group choir, raffles, beauty treatments, and providing hot lunches (such as the one I took part in).
I am music
In-Deep also provides musical therapy for children aged 5–13 with special needs and learning difficulties. This helps the children develop mentally, emotionally and physically. It also helps parents — who may often feel alone and overwhelmed — connect with those in similar situations.
One in a million
Growing up with a brother with Asperger’s has given me insight into how hard support can be to find. I’ve come to realise how little assistance there can be and how few opportunities are available. Seeing how far my brother has come and how hard he’s worked to overcome his difficulties makes me proud to call Ralph my brother.
We need a resolution
Really, every London borough needs multiple Emmas and Colins. Everybody should have access to a friendly face, hot food, music, and somebody to ask them how they are.
It really is easy to fall on hard times with little support. Leaving work or losing a job, death or sickness, disability and illness — it can happen to us all.
Even easier is it to be left feeling lonely and vulnerable, which itself can lead to depression and a decline in both mental wellbeing and physical health.
Nobody is immune to loneliness, and one day any one of us could find ourselves in a difficult situation through no fault of our own.
But, nobody needs to feel like they’re in too deep.
Are you that somebody?
My day at In-Deep was for the weekly Over 50s Luncheon. My work primarily consisted of helping prepare and serve the food to a fun and entertaining group.
It was an enjoyable afternoon spent with good people. At the end, I was told I’d made some fans, who asked if and when I’d be returning.
I’m heading down to help again this November. Who’s coming?