Message from ActivLives – 02.10.20

Message from ActivLives – 02.10.20

On Monday 23rd March 2020, due to the Covid-19 virus and Government lockdown ActivLives had to close all of our activity sessions, the Sudbury project and limit access to our two community gardens in Ipswich. The office closed at Brightspace and staff worked remotely, attended the gardens and two staff were furloughed for 2 months.

 

What we achieved through lockdown?

  • We contacted 300 of our more vulnerable members and volunteers through regular befriending and welfare calls.
  • We developed Activ@Home on our website/Facebook page with exercise videos, weekly quizzes, singing videos and launched our ‘That Reminds Me’ reminiscence, arts and photography project.
  • We set up WhatsApp groups, so that our members could keep in touch with each other.
  • We held regular zoom social and ActivSinging sessions and organised singing sessions outdoors in people’s gardens and in parks.
  • Our two Community Gardens the People’s Community Garden at Maidenhall and Chantry Walled Garden at Chantry Park were closed to the general public, but were maintained by a skeleton team of staff and dedicated volunteers who followed strict social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
  • We received thousands of plugs / plants for the IBC parks and our plant sales, which were nurtured by a small team of dedicated volunteers.
  • We set up our plant on-line sales and delivery service to enable people to access plants during lockdown and to link with people in the community.
  • A dedicated team of volunteers looked after our Bee Hives to ensure our bees survived through lockdown.
  • We were able to continue providing healthy fresh produce and flowers for the local community at the People’s Community Garden, to help people through lockdown and keeping in touch with the community.
  • The Staff and Trustees met regularly via Zoom sessions and this will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • We continued to work on the Bridging the Gap project funded by Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG / Suffolk Community Foundation in partnership with NSFT / Willows Unit and the Recovery College holding regular zoom meetings and working on learning plans for Inclusive sport and Connecting with Nature.
  • For those people who didn’t have access to the internet we printed hard copy exercise sheets, quiz booklets, produced a CD and hard copy songbooks which were distributed to members to try and keep them connected.
  • We would like to thank all our funders for being very supportive and understanding through this very difficult time particularly the National Lottery, Suffolk Community Foundation, County, Borough, District & Town Councils and Councillors.

 

Where we are now?

  • We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation and Government announcements very closely and following strict guidance on hygiene / cleaning, social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
  • We have been working closely with venues on risk assessments to ensure that our members, volunteers and staff are safe and to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
  • We have been working on our re-start plan to gradually re-introduce some activity sessions again to help our members improve their physical and mental health and build their confidence, after many of them have had to shield during lockdown.
  • The ActivOut and About Project has been operating since July and has focussed on offering Covid-19 compliant outdoor exercise opportunities including chair-based exercise in people’s gardens, walks in local green spaces and badminton and boccia in the park. We are very grateful to Active Suffolk and Sport England for their support for this initiative.
  • Inclusive Badminton, Boccia and Badminton sessions are planning to re-start in October / November 20. We are taking a gradual approach to re-opening these sessions, taking into account the myriad of Covid-19 regulations from the venues, sports governing bodies, Sport England and the DCMS.
  • We have re-started some of our Step by Step falls prevention and ActivSteps sessions in Ipswich and Felixstowe, with others planned to open in October if we can. A new member of staff has been recruited to develop the Step by Step Falls Prevention projected, funded by Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG and she will be joining us in November.
  • The People’s Community Garden, Chantry Walled Garden and the Sudbury Project have welcomed back existing volunteers and new volunteers to all the different projects currently underway at ActivGardens and Chantry Walled Garden is now open to the general public on Thursdays from 10am – 3pm.
  • ActivSheds has re-opened on Fridays with a limited number of volunteers at each session and a new specialist session has opened on Thursdays for people with a disability or people living with Dementia and their Carers, which can offer more 1-1 support.
  • The Elderflower Carers Hub has re-started at the CRESS Pavilion off Halifax Road with a new rota in place for members and volunteers, so that members, volunteers and staff can have an enjoyable session, whilst being socially distanced and keep people safe in the venue.
  • WhatsApp groups, Zoom social and singing sessions will continue so that we can keep in touch with members across Ipswich and East Suffolk.
  • We are continuing to develop the Bridging the Gap Project in partnership with NSFT / Willows Unit and the Recovery College and have through September been able to go back on the wards with table top gardening. Hopefully, our Boccia sessions will be able to re-start again soon.
  • The Friday Friends Hub at Whitehouse and funded by the North West Ipswich Big Local Trust will hopefully re-start in October / November time. It will be a slightly shorter session with a rota in place for members, Carers and volunteers. We are currently working with the Church to ensure it is a Covid-secure venue and session. The Friday Friends zoom social sessions will continue to ensure we support our members living with Dementia and their carers.
  • With the current Government announcements our two lunch clubs at St Mary at Stoke Church & the Ipswich International Church may not open until next year. However, we will be monitoring the guidance carefully and if we can open sooner we certainly will.
  • Our Befriending / Welfare calls will also continue with our most vulnerable members to help reduce their anxiety, loneliness and social isolation caused by the lockdown.

 We are taking things very slowly to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and members. We will continue to open sessions where and when we can and keep in touch with our members to make sure they are OK and inform them of any developments with our activity and social programme.

A big thank you to all our funders and the amazing donations we have received to help the organisation through these unprecedented times and to the staff and volunteers who have gone that extra mile to support our services and each other during lockdown. If you require any further information, please contact us on 01473 345350.

– Julie Stokes CEO

Sign up to the next ‘Grow Your Future’ programme NOW! – 18.09.20

Sign up to the next ‘Grow Your Future’ programme NOW! – 18.09.20

If you are looking for a new direction – how about taking part in a FREE outdoor-based learning programme at ActivGardens? ‘Grow Your Future’ will enable you to learn new skills and gain confidence on your way to further opportunities.

Sign up NOW to attend the induction day on Monday 23rd November 2020

The 12-week programme on Mondays/Fridays will include garden maintenance, horticulture and environmental conservation, with a chance to get involved in specialist activities such as woodworking or bee-keeping at The People’s Community Garden, Halifax Rd, Ipswich, IP2 8RE. Grow Your Future is for anyone aged 16+ who is unemployed or economically inactive, and encourages people who face barriers to work – such as a disability, health condition, or caring responsibilities. To find out more, or register your interest, please contact Susannah Robirosa on 07530 407302 or email susannah@activlives.org.uk. You can also contact ActivLives on 01473 345350   This project is funded by the European Social Fund and administered by LIFT Community Grants ‘Local Investment in Learning Paths to Work’.

Outdoor, socially distanced ActivSingers sessions was a great hit!

Outdoor, socially distanced ActivSingers sessions was a great hit!

Some of our ActivSingers got together at The People’s Community Garden last week to enjoy a socially distanced sing-along in the beautiful setting of our garden!

We ensured all of our members stuck to the current government socially distance rules for the whole session, but that didn’t stop the fun as members stood up at their chairs and had a boogie while singing some of their favourite tunes – see them singing and dancing to ‘Jambo Bwana’ among some beautiful plants in the video below:

We’re hoping to start up some of our sessions soon, starting with existing members. If you’re one of our members who regularly attend our sessions, we’ll be in touch soon!​

Outdoor Learning and Skills Programme for young people at school – 29.06.20

Outdoor Learning and Skills Programme for young people at school – 29.06.20

ActivGardens is launching a new learning and skills programme at the People’s Community Garden, Maidenhall Allotments, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE to inspire young people and help move them on to the world of work.

Starting next term (September 2020), it will consist of half-termly (five-week) programmes, giving young people a chance to learn hands-on in a safe outdoor environment.

The programme will be steered by a Level 6 qualified careers professional, with 20 years’ experience of working with young people, offering a range of activities in gardening and horticulture, nature conservation and beekeeping, woodworking and construction, cooking and crafts.

Schools can choose from a menu of activities to help achieve the required Gatsby Benchmarks 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 specified in the Statutory Careers Guidance (October 2018). Please see attached table for examples of activities offered.

The scheme will enable young people to:

  • learn practical skills, gain work experience, and take on leadership/ organisational roles in a project embedded in the local community
  • develop competencies such as working as a team, good communication, and being willing to take on and understand responsibility
  • build self-esteem, gain confidence, and feel pride in their achievements
  • develop friendships and form social networks
  • contribute to the local community.

More info can be found in our previous newsletter – www.activlives.org.uk/activlives/activlives-april-2020-newsletter

 

Cost: £100 per two-hour session for up to 6 students for course of five sessions per half term.
Introductory taster session offer – £50

We can also offer bespoke horticultural/ environmental sessions at your school site.

For further information, or to look around our gardens, please contact:

Fundraising and Development Manager Susannah Robirosa on 07530 407302 or 01473 345350 susannah@activlives.org.uk

Message from ActivLives – 19/05/2020

Message from ActivLives – 19/05/2020

The UK Government have recently published their Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, which includes a provisional timetable for changes to the restrictions that we are all experiencing.

You may be wondering what these changes have meant for our services and activities at ActivLives?

The changes that were implemented from 13th May (Step One), have made very little difference to what ActivLives are able to provide on a face to face basis. Although individually, we are now able to leave our home to exercise more often, drive further and even play some sports (such as golf), none of this changes are what ActivLives are able to provide in terms of projects and groups at this moment in time. This is due to the continued implementation of the social distancing rules and the restrictions on permitted social contact.

ActivGardens continue to be closed to the public, although a small team of staff and brilliant volunteers are still working to carry out essential work. We have however, taken this opportunity to launch our new on-line plant and produce sales with ‘ActivGardens Online’ https://activlives.org.uk/activgardens/online/

All other ActivLives projects continue to be suspended until further notice; these include all of our lunch clubs, exercise classes, inclusive sports groups and singing projects.

The next round of proposed changes (Step Two), are due to be implemented on the 1st June, these are also unlikely to change anything that we at ActivLives, are able to provide in terms of face to face services.

We are continuing to develop our on-line services including seated exercise routines, quizzes, a reminiscing project and sing-along sessions, which can all be found on our website at https://activlives.org.uk/activhome/

Be assured that we do plan to return to full operation, just as soon as we are permitted and of course, when it is safe to do so!    

We will be working on our own ‘road map’ of how we can re-introduce sessions, in a safe and phased approach, when it is safe for us to do so. So please be patient and keep safe – We will meet again!

 

ActivLives Trustees

Julie Stokes – ActivLives CEO

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy

ActivLives launches online plant and produce sales!

ActivLives launches online plant and produce sales!

Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers at ActivGardens have been busy – and safely – tending plants and vegetables to keep you healthy and in good spirits during these difficult times.

While our community gardens are closed to the public, you can visit our website www.activlives.org.uk/activgardens/online and browse our online catalogue before downloading an order form to send with your choices. We will then be in touch to arrange delivery.

  • Details of vegetable boxes will follow.

 

In buying from us, you are supporting our charity, which helps local people build stronger, healthier communities and enables people of all ages and abilities to live full and active lives.

  • For more information on our projects and activities, and what we are doing to keep our members connected during lockdown, please visit our website activlives.org.uk

 

We do our bit for the environment too – growing varieties which are bee and butterfly-friendly to attract pollinators to your garden, and using peat-free compost. You can return your pots, trays and labels to us to use again to cut down plastic wastage (we only accept our pots, so please don’t return any others as it becomes a waste issue for us).

All our plants are rown at ActivGardens – Chantry Walled Garden, in Chantry Park and the People’s Community Garden, on Maidenhall Allotments – as part of projects to nurture skills and build confidence. Please do come and visit when we are able to re-open.

For more information, please contact Fundraising and Development Manager Susannah Robirosa 07530 407302 or email susannah@activlives.org.uk.