Event Report: A talk by Susie O’Hagan of Hands Together Ludlow, November 21st, 2023

In this event report, our newsletter editor Frances Lloyd recaps Susie’s talk about the organisation’s work to help, inform and support people in and around Ludlow.

Hands Together Ludlow’s premises on Lower Galdeford

Hands Together Ludlow (HTL) is a registered charity located at 15 Lower Galdeford, Ludlow. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Susie O’Hagan, Operations Manager, explained that the charity identifies gaps and supports people to help themselves.

They have four specific objectives:

  • To reduce isolation and loneliness
  • To improve health and well-being
  • To improve the quality of life including people’s finances
  • To strengthen communities

Who do they help? Anyone who needs them.

In 2021, with lottery funding, Hands Together Ludlow increased its number of staff and this is the year Susie was employed. There are three full-time and two part-time staff with about 100 volunteers. They obtained the building in 2022. There are nearly thirty different projects and interventions. The Citizens Advice Bureau, South Shropshire Youth Forum and the Men’s Shed are also based there.

Susie O’Hagan, Operations Manager of Hands Together Ludlow

Susie told us that out of seven wards in Ludlow, three are the most deprived. Sandpits and Rockspring is one of the worst in the country. Above average (27%) of children are on pupil premium. Above the national average are registered as disabled, one-person households. 12% are below national average salary levels. There is high drug use in these areas, difficulties accessing hospitals, job centres, NHS dentists and support groups.

Susie said that funding is an ongoing nightmare. £175k is needed in 2024. 70% of their funding is restricted or designated. 30% is unrestricted. 63% of their funds come from trusts and foundations, 23% from contracts and statutory bodies, 5% from private donations, 6% from community donations, 4% from HTL fundraising and earned income and 1% from organisations.

Hands Together Ludlow’s projects – services, activities and networks:

  • Weekly community lunch
  • Company at Christmas
  • Weekly afternoon teas
  • Befriending
  • Monthly Good Grief Cafe
  • Ludlow Men’s Shed
  • Good Start for toddlers of vulnerable parents
  • Social space/warm space
  • Food – donations and given out. Community fridge
  • One-to-one job and CV help
  • Digital drop-in
  • Hardship grants
  • Enabling fund – funding a need for a new job, e.g. a chef needing knives
  • Transport for hospital and other appointments
  • Signposting and advice

A report by the local council, the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, is a survey of the health and well-being needs in the local population and is used by HTL to make their plans and ensure they are addressing local needs.

A challenge is how is the work they do measurable? Is any group they help out-of-bounds? Getting data on what they do is really important. They have to provide feedback to funders on the impact they’ve made. Not easy.

To learn more about Hands Together Ludlow, please visit www.handstogetherludlow.org.uk