Introducing Jess: our Head of Programmes

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In her first blog, Jess, our new Head of Programmes, shares why she thinks Liverpool Cares is so important, how she can’t wait to set up our Love Your Neighbour Programme, and why you should join her in getting involved.

When I first found out about Liverpool Cares I was living in Brighton, trying to plan a move back up north and seeking a change in career. Hearing about what The Cares Family were doing, and how they were doing it in Liverpool, sparked an interest in me that wouldn't go away, and I knew then that I wanted to be a part of Liverpool Cares in some way. 

Loneliness affects all of us, it’s a universal emotion and not to be dismissed. Although it didn’t occur to me at the time because I was much younger, my grandma was profoundly lonely. She was always the most gregarious of all of us, always willing and eager to strike up a conversation with whoever was nearby, but in later life she lacked the mobility to be as independent as she wanted to be, and I think that really affected her.

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Though my grandma had plenty of family to spend time with I’m sure she would’ve loved to have someone else to talk to. Someone who didn’t see her as ‘mum’ or ‘grandma’, but instead as Jude; someone with interesting stories to tell, and plenty of energy to tell them with. She would’ve revelled in Liverpool Cares’ free social clubs, which are as interesting and diverse as Liverpool’s inhabitants. Later in life when she became frailer and less able to get around independently, she would’ve been so thrilled to know that Love Your Neighbour existed, our friendship matching programme which brings younger and older neighbours together to share one-on-one time. It fills me with pride to know that I’ll be spending my days helping to build something which she would’ve loved so much. 

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In my first two weeks as Head of Programmes I have seen first-hand that what Liverpool Cares is doing is already helping to create authentic connections which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I have already been fortunate enough to spend my time at some of our fantastic free social clubs – on my first day I spent my evening at a Singalong Club in the city centre, singing along to classics like Mamma Mia and Let It Be. It was there that I met one of our older neighbours, Gerard, who was at his first social club too – it felt fitting to share my first social club experience with someone else who was new too! I have also attended our first Business Visit at the incredibly friendly DWF, and in my second week I spent time chatting and laughing with Alma about how she still goes to taekwondo classes every week at a Still Life Drawing social club, hosted at Leaf

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There’s always a fantastic atmosphere at social clubs, which is completely infectious. You always leave feeling completely energised. Similarly, the outreach work undertaken during our recent Winter Wellbeing project has shown me just how vital and important it is to have strong community bonds in our city if we hope to keep everyone happy, safe and connected.

As Head of Programmes, I’m looking forward to building networks across our incredible city, setting up our Love Your Neighbour programme and getting stuck into what is going to be a really exciting time for Liverpool Cares!

On a more personal note, as someone whose entire family is from Liverpool, it fills me with a lot of pride to see Liverpool Cares welcomed so openly and warmly by the city. Scousers are among some of the warmest and friendliest people I have ever met, and I have no doubt that together we are building something incredible.

Jess Dyson-Houghton

Posted by Jess Dyson-Houghton on Thursday 11th April 2019

Jess is the Head of Programmes at Liverpool Cares, and also leads our Love Your Neighbour programme.

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