Lots of the people we support enjoy sessions at our Wantage Market Garden, which is part of our Gardening Project. Some people undertake gardening skills training, some take part in group sessions and wellbeing events, while others are happy to find a peaceful spot to plant some seeds or smell the scented flowers.
It’s a wonderful, calming space that is run in partnership with Sustainable Wantage. Each Friday there is a session at the garden supported by our Gardening Coordinator Sarah and our volunteers, including Olwen, Garden Coordinator for Sustainable Wantage and regular volunteer Jackie.
Here are photos of some of the regular garden team, made up of some of the people we support and regular garden volunteers from Style Acre and Sustainable Wantage.
Thank you to the garden team for their commitment to this beautiful space!
This year has been lots of ups and downs
The virus came and everyone had lockdowns
To keep us happy at Bryan Way
We have activities every day
Cooking, baking, walking and crafts
Hip hip hooray project sunflower we achieved
And Miles and Smiles on a virtual make believe
Haircuts at home, new recipes to try and Amazon to buy
A new lifestyle we all have to try
We sanitise and wash our hands, keep this virus away
Safe distance and mask becomes a daily task
We miss our friends at T2, staying safe we must do
So lockdown scrapbook number 2 we will start
To show everyone at T2 when we restart
Since Covid-19, many of the regular volunteering roles at Style Acre are on pause so that we can keep everyone safe. But one place we can have volunteers safely is the Wantage Market Garden. And with such a large space, extra bodies can make big gardening jobs look like light work!
So we were delighted to welcome corporate volunteers from local company Vertex Pharmaceuticals to our Wantage Market Garden recently. They pruned, painted and hedge trimmed their way around the garden over two days.
To make things safe, we thoroughly risk assessed the activities the volunteers would be doing. And everyone was able to social distance in the large space of the garden.
We’re very grateful to our corporate volunteer groups who visit us for team days. They get to spend a day outside in the fresh air learning new skills and we get lots of muscle power to help our garden team get through some of those big jobs!
Thank you to Vertex for their ongoing support. To find out more about corporate volunteer days, get in touch with our volunteering team.
The people we support have really enjoyed the final two weeks of StoryFest. There has been star spotting, chocolate tasting, Willy Wonka experiments and even a life-sized tardis across our houses and community hubs! Here are some of the highlights from the past two weeks. Find out what we did in the first two weeks of StoryFest here!
People with learning disabilities and autism are particularly vulnerable in this pandemic. The changes to routine are causing heightened anxiety, people are feeling isolated and are struggling to understand what they can safely do and when.
Despite having restricted access to our community hub buildings due to Covid-19, our Day Opportunities team have had to find a way to creatively support over 220 people who normally attend the hubs on a regular basis. This funding is helping us to revamp our Day Opportunities and deliver a constantly changing service. It will help us to adapt our support as the environment around us continues to change and the pandemic develops.
The community hub teams are currently supporting people who normally attend our hubs by:
- Assisting 1-2-1 with socially distanced activities so people can leave their home in a safe way.
- Making 1-2-1 phone and video calls to people who are feeling anxious, upset or worried so they can access essential support at the most difficult and unpredictable of times – a lifeline for many.
- Supporting 24 people who are particularly vulnerable due to complex needs, mental health issues and/or isolation. (Now taking place safely in our buildings as much as possible.)
- Providing a timetable of online activities so people can keep in contact with their community hub friends and staff in a fun, safe and easily-accessed way – 50 people are taking part in online activities.
- Offering 1-2-1 and small group outdoor activities, including walks and day trips so people can have some level of normality and enjoy activities outside of their homes with friends where safe to do so.
- Helping people take part in engaging activities, including our Miles & Smiles challenge and StoryFest so they can keep up motivation levels – this is becoming even more important as the pandemic continues.
- Assisting the wider supported living service with fun, motivational activities, online activities and Speech & Language Therapy / communication needs.
- Offering small group and 1-2-1 activity sessions in our community hub buildings as much as possible.
As things progress, longer term consequences to people’s wellbeing are becoming apparent. The support of our Day Opportunities and our Ways to Wellness programme is becoming even more essential in helping people both physically and mentally. This money will help us invest to ensure we are continuing to support people with a high-quality service throughout the winter months.
At the same time, we have needed to purchase a large stock of PPE for our Day Opportunities, which we have never previously needed to do. The funding has also helped with the additional cost for this equipment.
Like many venues, the Style Acre Tea Room is so reliant on outdoor space and good weather to help sustain income at the moment due to social distancing measures. The outdoor space is lovely in summer but on cold, wet days in autumn and winter, it is not so appealing. With limited space inside, our Tea Room team were worried about the upcoming challenges as the seasons change.
After chatting with Tea Room Manager Tracy, customers Jess and Caroline wanted to help secure enough funds to find a solution. We have to say a huge thank you to both Jess and Caroline for creating and championing the Crowdfunder for the Tea Room. The money raised will help to secure additional weatherproof outdoor seating space.
£3890 has been raised through the Crowdfunder itself. Thank you to everyone who donated. We also have to say a big thank you to an anonymous supporter who kindly donated £2,000 offline to enable us to push above the £5000 target!
The Style Acre Tea Room is one of our social enterprises; it enables people with learning disabilities and autism to gain valuable work experience, skills and confidence. It is often a first stepping stone into work for the people we support in our Work Programme.