Battle for life drives Lynda’s mission to help others
Published by Anonymous for Two Rivers Housing in Health and also in Communities, Housing
Stonehouse resident Lynda Beard is in the driving seat of a major community initiative that is literally changing people’s lives.
Two Rivers Housing tenant Lynda and fellow Stonehouse resident Malcolm Francis founded the All Pulling Together initiative which is helping local people to turn their lives around.
But just three years ago life was looking pretty bleak for kitchen designer Lynda. She was diagnosed with a life threatening illness and things seemed to be unravelling fast.
In January 2010, the day after her father’s funeral, and 6-8 months after her first operation, she and her two children moved into one of Two Rivers Housing’s brand new energy saving homes in Severn Terrace. This was just the fresh start that Lynda needed.
“The Two Rivers community has been a major part of me getting my life back. I love my little home,” she said.
With a lovely new home to provide her with stability and security, and her teenagers Thomas and Rebecca backing her all the way, Lynda realised she had a lot to fight for.
“It woke me up. Apart from bringing up two lovely children, I felt I hadn’t served my purpose. So that’s why I got stuck into my local community. This was my chance to put that right and make a difference. That’s what has driven me.”
Lynda started to make things happen. Together with Malcolm, his wife Mel, PCSO Tracey Wren, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, Stroud District Council, three other Two Rivers tenants (Danny Gardiner, Maria Dowdeswell, Natasha King) along with other hard working volunteers; they established the All Pulling Together Centre in Park Parade.
The APT Centre opened in March 2011 and is a hub of activity; helping local people make the connections to a better life.
There are internet and phone facilities so people can apply for jobs, CV writing workshops and training, ‘drop in’ surgeries from the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Credit Union, courses in Health and Safety, First Aid, Food Hygiene and IT and much more.
The team are all volunteers and have pulled everything together through sheer determination. They secured funding and support from the local council and a host of local companies to make the dream come true.
“Two Rivers tenants may be at the heart of the community enterprise, but there are loads of people from all walks of life involved. We are here for the whole community,” Lynda said.
Malcolm, who is a Stroud District Council tenant, and Lynda both feel that the centre gives the community a voice.
“The centre isn’t run by any official agency. It’s our own community space and everyone can get involved. We are not sitting around waiting for someone to help us – we are making it happen for ourselves. This is all about people power,” Lynda said.
Lynda has found that helping people has given her life a real boost. She is now active in the Two Rivers community, joining a group of tenants in advising and supporting the not for profit homes organisation in its work across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
“Two Rivers is all about building better communities and a brighter future. Good quality low cost homes are the staring point but people are what the organisation is all about,” she said.
Caring Lynda is endlessly busy. If working as a kitchen designer, helping out at the APT centre, bringing up two children, and advising Two Rivers wasn’t enough, she now has her hens to keep her busy in her back garden.
“It’s no yoke, I can tell you,” she laughed.
Two Rivers boss Garry King said Lynda was an inspiration.
“We have some great characters in our communities across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. But Lynda is exceptional. She is a beacon of energy, a model of what Two Rivers is all about.
“As a not for profit community organisation, we provide 3,800 quality homes for local people at low cost. And we are building hundreds more. We are bridging the gap between high house prices and low wages. We are making things happen for local people.
“If anyone is looking for a new home for rent or for sale, and can’t afford the rat race prices, then the Two Rivers community might be able to help. Just give us a call on 0800 316 0897,” he said.