YANA (You Are Not Alone)



Name: Sherry Fatemi, you can contact Sherry by clicking here to go to our contact form or visit the YANA website here

What is the name of the project/ activity?  You Are Not Alone (YANA)


Where did the idea come from?

I came to Nottingham 10 years ago and found it difficult to find and connect into the Iranian community and to find other Iranian single parents/ Farsi speakers who understood my situation. There was no Iranian women’s group and I found there were language barriers  As a single mother with a young child who didn’t know anyone in the city, I felt very lonely and wished I could find a supportive community. I went to college to learn English and then I got a job as an interpreter. I kept seeing people who had been like me and wanted to set up something for people; the Farsi speaking population is quite transient so it is hard to access continuous support. Slowly I found some other people who shared my ideas and in 2018 it felt the right time to set up YANA which is open to Farsi speaking women.

We started by organising events and some classes in different parts of the city. Our aim was to provide support and reduce isolation of Iranian/ Persian mothers. Before Covid YANA had developed lots of different activities, classes and cultural events as well as opportunities for volunteering, where we could meet up. When we could not meet together because of the lock down we started to use social media to keep in touch and offer support. We have a constitution and there are 3 trustees and 7 key volunteers who run YANA.

Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did?

YANA had existed for over a year and it was more about changing the way we were keeping the links with our members and continue to provide support to them and to others who needed help.

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

YANAs general aims are

  • Reducing isolation of Iranian/ Persian women and YANA group members
  • Maintaining community cohesion, health and wellbeing of Iranian/ Persian women and YANA group members

And we added another one

  • Getting food and other practical help to those who needed it most

The Activity

  • We moved all our activities on to social media, Facebook and started to build a website. We kept in touch with people by phone and through our community members.
  • When we got asked for help we would put out an appeal to our community, so we saw that some people were going hungry and asked for help. People volunteered to cook as did a restaurant, the food bank offered help and so we were able to cook and deliver many meals to people
  • We also had a request for help from Iranian men in a temporary accommodation hotel in Nottingham who needed good quality clothing as the clothes they had been offered were no in good condition. When we contacted them we found there were 60 Iranian refugee men in one hostel run by SERCO who needed other kinds of support, such as interpreting, immigration and legal advice and support, as they could not afford WIFI for their mobile and also translation and language barriers, and they wanted culturally appropriate food.

Read more: YANA (You Are Not Alone)

Supporting local people in lockdown: Springswood and Lynton Covid 19 mutual aid



Name: Lucy

What is the name of the project/ activity? Springswood and Lynton Covid 19 mutual aid.


Where did the idea come from?

I was worried about people with no support networks when lockdown first started.

Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did?

I checked if the community centre were doing anything but they weren’t

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

To provide support to people on my street and the neighbouring streets

The Activity

I printed out notices and put them through everyone’s door – about 120 houses on the main street and the avenue off it - saying to contact me if need anything getting and asking for people to help. I had 60 people offer. I spoke to some people I knew were shielding and checked they had support systems in place.

I made a Face Book page to put up information about the lockdown and the official guidance.

A couple on the street offered to set up a WhatsApp group which became a vehicle for people to make contact and chat to each other, especially on the avenue of terraced houses where people didn’t really know their neighbours.

I had a few requests for help and I either did it myself or put it on the whatsapp group.

People on the whatsapp Group would post appeals and others would answer and fulfil them.

If someone was going into town, they would let people know and pick up a few items for them. This resulted in less trips out of the neighbourhood for pints of milk etc.

The food bank put out an appeal for donations and a table was set up behind one person’s house and regular weekly collections were made, and still continue but with less donations now that the supermarkets food bank baskets have appeared again.

When the clap for carers ended a couple of people with previous links to a local private care home organised cakes for carers, people baked cakes, children drew pictures and people took them to the care home. There hasn’t been much feedback from the home but someone now has a link to the owners and hopefully we will find out what is useful. This is being taken forward by a couple of neighbours who like to do the baking and it will probably become a monthly visit rather than fortnightly.

Read more: Supporting local people in lockdown: Springswood and Lynton Covid 19 mutual aid

Sherwood Food Exchange


Name: Rachel Jackson you can contact Rachel by clicking here to go to our contact form or visiting the project facebook group here

What is the name of the project/ activity? 

Sherwood Food Exchange


Where did the idea come from?

Prior to lock down I was struggling to find much food within my local supermarket and witnessed the impact of people panic buying in fear of what was to come.

When returning home, I noticed people within Sherwood posting similar observations about the lack of food availability within our local community group, Sherwood in Nottingham. I suddenly wondered what people might think of the idea of having access to foods such as pasta and supplies such as washing up liquid from open and accessible containers which might save them the hassle of having to locate shops where they could buy such products. I also thought that a lot of people who had already panic bought may well be now realising that they did have spare items they might want to swap for items they had been unable to find within their local supermarkets.

 I posted my idea on our local community Facebook page called ‘Sherwood in Nottingham’ and found most people to be supportive and encouraging and some doubtful of whether it might just attract theft or anti-sociable behaviour.

The next day I contacted a few local businesses and fortunately contacted Mike Douglas from VISAV- A Nottingham based web design company providing content managed websites, for agencies such as neighbourhood watch and Nottinghamshire Police Constabulary. Fortunately, Mike, who also ran the Sherwood Business Centre was also very community minded like myself and was keen enough to provide me the land and financial backing to make the project work!

Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did?

The exchange was developed as a completely new initiative.

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

I wanted to give people access to food and the supplies they were short of and to encourage people to share and pull together as a community. I also wanted to reduce the impact of job loss and food poverty and to make the exchange accessible, not just for people receiving benefits, but also for people who were not in receipt of benefits but still experiencing poverty and food poverty.

The Activity

After posting my initial idea up on Facebook and receiving local support, I then set about looking for local businesses and organisations who might support my initiative and provide me with me with funding and use of their land and sent off emails the following morning outlining the project aims and what was required.

Meanwhile, knowing that there would be health and safety and food safety implications for running such a project I looked up phone numbers for public health advisers within Nottingham and food safety advisers. I found a phone number for a lady who worked for Nottingham Council and emailed her straight away with a brief synopsis of what I intended to do and then started ringing people the next day until I managed to speak to a health and food safety adviser within the local council who advised me what protocols would have to be followed.

Once hearing back from Mike from the Sherwood Business centre and acquiring land and possible funds, I then looked up the phone number for Nottingham City Council and called them initially asking to speak to environmental health before finding out that the Council employed a health and safety food adviser. Fortunately, I managed to get to speak to her that day to explain my idea and got to hear about what stipulations were important to have in place to protect the health and wellbeing of the general public coming to use the exchange. From this phone call, I learnt about general food and safety protocols and also about probable Covid-19 guidelines and then set out to write a risk assessment to ensure that controls were put in place to identify, negate or minimise any possible future risks to health and safety of visitors to our exchange.

The next day, I met with Mike Douglas and his team, looked at the land and talked about my vision and what would be required. I gave Mike a shopping list of the things we required such as boxes and, from information gained from the food and safety officer, we were able to list a range of food items which we could store in the exchange- items which did not require freezing or refrigeration such as fruit and vegetables, tinned goods, confectionary and household goods. We then devised how we would separate and advertise each category of items to ensure that the exchange was simple to use both for people donating and for people taking from the exchange.

Then, with health and food safety in mind, I went away and wrote the words which were required to indicate what food was in each box, safety and usage of the exchange posters and all other signage which was required to ensure that the exchange was not only advertised via social media but also advertised to local businesses and residents within our community.

Fortunately, a very talented graphic designer called Trevor Gibson who worked within the Sherwood Business Centre kindly offered to design our posters, logo and signage for free and by the end of day two, we already had draft posters ready, a valid risk assessment and everything on order required for our opening just less than two weeks later! Then, my next task was to send posters and my risk assessment back and forth to the health and food safety representative within Nottingham Council to ensure that we had addressed all probable risk factors within our signage and risk assessment.

Meanwhile, I set up a Facebook page solely for the Sherwood Food Exchange and an email address and started to get local interest. I also then wrote out to local businesses informing them of what we were doing and requesting for donations. Then, we were ready for launch on Monday the 30th of March!

For the remaining 12 days prior to opening, I produced live videos and posted them on Facebook informing community residents about our scheduled opening. I also went around shops telling them about the exchange as well as dropping some leaflets off door to door around the estate where I live.  Then, on the 28th of March, Mike and I set up the site and put up the flat packed plastic food containers. I then returned to site on Sunday the 29th of March having advertised this day as donation day and waited on site all day to receive food donations and to talk to residents and passers by about the food exchange.  Then, finally on the 30th of March we officially opened and couldn’t have wished for a more positive opening.

Word had got around to ITN news and our first morning of opening was televised on regional television. Very fortunately, two people who worked for ITV happened to live within our community and I was contacted by them and asked whether we would like to talk about the project on regional news. Of course, the answer was yes, and that publicity then was followed quickly by Notts TV and then BBC Radio Nottingham- both also hearing about the project via our Facebook presence and word of mouth.

Read more: Sherwood Food Exchange

Providing PPE for Nurses



Name: Helena Leeming, you can contact Helena by clicking here to go to our contact form

What is the name of the project/ activity?  Providing PPE to a local hospital


Where did the idea come from?

Seeing the demand for PPE on Facebook and Instagram, then seeing a friend in Huddersfield  was making scrubs, and felt I wanted to do something, so I asked friend who is a nurse at BRI if they would like some early in April.

Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did?

It was just an idea I had

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

To help provide some PPE for nurses at the local hospital.

The Activity

The friend put out an appeal for fabric and she collected all the offers and dropped it off to me. I sorted it out and there was a lot that wasn’t suitable as we needed cotton or poly cotton. I washed some of the material to ensure it wouldn’t shrink any more when washed in the future.  I set up an appeal through GoFundMe and started to get donations to buy fabric, elastic etc.

I put a post on the Yorkshire Scrubs Facebook page and people contacted me offering to help; some people who were not on Facebook came via friends who had seen the request.

I put the pattern for the scrubs on my Facebook page, and people would copy it for friends who were not on Facebook. The nurse friend said the initial demand was for tops, later we went onto make full sets; there was more demand for medium tops and large bottoms.

I started to cut out the material ready for sewing as I had an electric cutter as I am doing a creative pattern cutting MA, and then started to deliver it to people to make up. Yorkshire Scrubs also gave me some material for scrubs to take out. I tried to collect and deliver at the same time, some people it was easy to get to but for others it was much harder to fit them into my normal schedule. I traced out several sets for a person to cut out but I didn’t get much back.

I was contacted by someone with a laser printer who wanted to make visors, I needed someone to make buttons as it was getting very hard to get hold of big buttons for the head bands, he put me in touch with someone who was willing to make the buttons and then I had a steady supply.

The demand grew once more staff were called back in and they needed PPE. Some of the sewers wanted to do more but I was limited in how many I could cut out and take around to people.

I am now closing the project as I need to complete my MA although there is still demand. I am making masks with some of the material left over. I need to sort out what has been made up and get it to the hospital. In time, I will make cushions and other clothing out of the material that was donated and then this can be used to help nursing staff in a different way.

Read more: Providing PPE for Nurses

Allotment COVID-19 Support













Name: Jen Dyer, Martino Corazza and Val Harris. You can contact them  by clicking here to go to our contact form or visit their website northcliffe.btck.co.uk

What is the name of the project/ activity?  Allotment COVID 19 support


Where did the idea come from?

Jen and Martino – a concern that when lock down started there were vulnerable people within the Northcliffe Allotment Society community who might need some support

Val- getting requests from plot holders to clarify the situation


Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did? It was exisiting orgnaisations changing what we did.

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

Jen and Martino – to ensure that members of the NAS community were aware that support was available if needed during the lock down

Val – to ensure the site was safe for people to come to

The Activity

Jen and Martino - we sent out an email to all plot holders asking if anyone 1) needed help with shopping, prescriptions etc and 2) were willing and able to support other plot holders. We received a number of offers of help so collated contact details and set up a WhatsApp group. A number of people came forward to ask for help on their plots and we called/emailed and/or met with those asking for help to find out what they wanted us to do on their plot. We also ensured a couple of people who hadn’t come forwards but we knew to be shielding, were ok with their plots. Within the group we did some weeding and clearing as well as planting some of the left over plants from the plant swap so when they could come back there would be some things for them to harvest.

Val – I started to get lots of queries about whether people could come to their plots or not, complaints about more than one family being on a plot and people generally worrying about how the site could be kept safe. I checked all the government guidelines which clearly exempted allotments and then made a page of guidance for keeping the site free. We got people to make some soap bags to hang on the taps and others donated small bars of soap. We asked people to open the gates in the morning and leave them open until the last person left in the evening. We agreed there would be no inspections in May and people would not be evicted if they couldn’t get up there.

Read more: Allotment COVID-19 Support

Keeping healthy: tai chi classes in a pandemic


Tai Chi

Name: Bar Stead, you can contact Bar by clicking here to go to our contact form or visit his website Ride the Tiger here

What is the name of the project/ activity?  Qigong and tai chi classes


Where did the idea come from?

I had been learning tai chi for many years and 11 years ago I decided I wanted to share my love and enthusiasm for the activity by setting up classes. My initial aim was to help improve the health of people that may not like more “traditional” gym or sports clubs.

I now run 3 sessions a week, all include Qigong and the short form of tai chi, and after two of the sessions there were optional classes to learn the long form, sword form and more recently the fan form.

Two of the classes were held at a local community centre and the other at a church hall. Two are morning sessions and one is an evening sessions; most people attended one session and a couple of people went to more than one session.

When I set out I focused on teaching the moves and slowly appreciated that people liked the social aspects of being at a class, and that this was also good for their health and well-being. I introduced a tea break after the main sessions and encouraged people to stay and chat to each other, this worked better at the day sessions than the evening session.

I have been keen to try and get tai chi into the open air and last year I ran a number of sessions in local parks which were very well attended, and I had planned to deliver some more this year through the Friends of group, but that obviously didn’t happen.

Was it developed as a new initiative/ project/ group? Or was it an existing organisation/ group changing what it did?

The latter. As news of the pandemic started to filter through I moved one of the day time sessions to a local park for two weeks before the lock down came and then I couldn’t run any actual classes as the centre and church hall had to suddenly shut.

What did you hope to achieve? What was your initial aim?

I wanted to try and offer people who came to my class the opportunity to keep up their practice and to keep on learning through on line classes. I was (and am) a firm believer that during a national health crisis that tai chi would be good for practitioners’ health – both physical and mental.

The Activity

I am very lucky to have my own practice space and with the appropriate placement of a web camera to a PC I was able to take our classes on-line very easily. For an exercise like tai chi it is important that students can see the whole body of the teacher and follow all the movements of the teacher. My personal exercise space allowed me to do this without any clutter in the picture. It is often easier for students to follow the moves of the teacher facing the same way. This means that I would be facing away from the computer while talking to explain movements so it was also important to have a wireless headset microphone with echo cancellation so that students could hear me as clearly as possible, and so that I could hear students questions easily and so that I could move around without being restricted. The best video performance would have been obtained using a streaming service and recorded videos, but I wanted to keep true to the atmosphere of the previous classes so I opted for a conferencing service so that students could chat together before class and that they were able to ask questions live during class. Initially I tried Skype, and then Zoom and quickly settled on WebEx, primarily because it was free and offered unlimited time to start with. Some people struggled to get WebEx to work for them and so for a while I ran some sessions with some people on Skype and others on WebEx. I run my classes with music and wanted to have this as part of the offer, it took a while to work out a technical solution which involved a mixing desk app on my computer which would stream my instructions and the music to the WebEx platform.

Initially I suggested donations, and suggested that people could pay the same as they pay for a class, and everyone was very happy to do that.
I kept in touch with people through email, some people explained why they could not join the classes on line and others I have not had much contact with until I was able to run real classes again.

Read more: Keeping healthy: tai chi classes in a pandemic