5 Minutes with Red Zebra | Your Cancer Services

06 January 2021 - by David Allen

For the people of East Kent, Red Zebra Community Solutions was established through a series of mergers between existing charities which had been providing services to local communities for many years. Taking its present name in 2015, Red Zebra’s mission is to help to create stronger, healthier communities by supporting people and organisations. We spoke to them to find out more about what they do and about why they are so passionate about their work.

Tell us about your organisation?

Red Zebra provides a variety of services enabling people to be involved and active in their communities and to remain independent in their own homes. These include social prescribing, helping socially isolated people to reconnect with their community; a volunteer transport service enabling people to attend essential appointments and a ‘Roma in the Lead’ project, which aims to address issues Roma migrants face around integration and difficulties in accessing services.  

We work across East Kent, however, more specifically, our Social Prescribing Service covers Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Sandwich, Ash and Faversham as well as the surrounding areas. As long as you are registered to a GP practice in these demographics, you can access the service! We can always point you in the right direction if you don’t though. 

What services do you offer people living with cancer?

The two services at Red Zebra that can support people living with Cancer are the Social Prescribing Service and the Community Transport. Community Transport is a volunteer led service helping people to get to their medical appointments. Social prescribing can connect people living with cancer, as well as their friends and families to services in their local community that can support them in their overall wellbeing and find assets that are out there that can support them in their journey. The benefits of this approach include helping people to: 

  • Feel more involved in the community
  • Meet new people
  • Make small changes to improve health and wellbeing 

Connect Well is accessible by all – health professionals are being trained to refer people directly to services and we also have two coordinators who can arrange to meet individuals if necessary to help navigate the directory.

If you are an organisation or service provider and would like to be listed on the directory or want to find out more about how Connect Well works please contact us.

For more information, please call us on 01227 272781, email us or visit the Connect Well online directory.

Do you have a target demographic who use your services?

Anyone over the age of 18 can access our service; however we can also work with Children through the families if needed. There really is no other requirement! We believe that everyone can benefit in some way from Social Prescribing. 

Our community transport service is currently based in Whitstable, and therefore you need to be a resident in the CT5 postcode. We prioritise people who find it difficult to access public transport whether due to age, disability or otherwise.

How are you funded?

As a charity we are funded by a variety of different streams for different projects. Our Social Prescribing Service is NHS funded through the Primary Care Network in Herne Bay as well as the Clinical Commissioning Groups. Our community transport is mainly funded by membership fees and donations, as well as some funding from the CCG. 

What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?

It’s got to be the privilege of seeing people connect to their communities and the positive sense that this has on their wellbeing once they feel they have more control over it. We’ve seen people go from barely leaving the house, to being involved in pantomimes and choirs. The smallest of things can make such a difference to someone’s sense of wellbeing. 

What would you say to those who are considering getting in touch with you but are nervous or apprehensive?

Every member of staff and our volunteers at Red Zebra are friendly and committed to helping people. There is no one particular reason that people access our service, it could be to find a local group, arrange some counselling, get some support with shopping and much more. We will listen to your situation, find out where you are, where you want to be, and then support you to get there! 

Do you have testimonials from people that have used your services?

“ speaking to you and knowing there is further help out there and where to find it has really helped” 

“ just talking to you has made me feel like the weight of the world has been lfited off my shoulders, it has felt so isolating but just talking makes such a difference” 

“I feel so much more in control, now I know where to turn when things get tough. Being a carer is a challenge, but now I’m starting to feel like I’m getting my life back as well as positively supporting my husband”

Who works for you?

Our Social Prescribing Team currently consists of 6 members of staff. 

Monica Boulton – Social Prescribing Lead

Claire Donaldson – Social Prescribing Admin Coordinator

Keeley Taylor – Social Prescribing Coordinator 

Rachel Stead – Social Prescribing Coordinator 

Gabi Novakovic – Herne Bay Primary Care Network Social Prescriber 

Shelly Albon – Herne Bay Primary Care Network Social Prescriber 

Our Community Transport Service is run by Sharon Brittain. 

 And finally, can you describe your organisation in 3 words?

Passionate about community!

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