January -April Newsletter 2021

Stay Safe and Active

What’s happening at ActivLives…..

Although many of our services are still closed due to the 3rd lockdown we are still working very hard to keep people active and connected across Ipswich and East Suffolk.  

 So, what’s occurring!!!!

The ActivOut and About Project, led by Mike McCarthy, has been helping people improve their physical and mental health by organising one to one walks with people who live on their own, are vulnerable or just need some social contact.

The walk may just be around the streets or in a park or green space, or even down to the local shop to help to build confidenceand connect people who have been isolating for so long. In between walks Mike keeps in contact with members by phone, to check that they are OK and have an friendly and uplifting chat.

What our members say:

“I am feeling so much fitter as a result of these (exercise) sessions, I really enjoy the challenge”

“I have been stuck in the house for so long, these walks are great”

“I am seeing places that I have never been to before, and I have lived for over 40 years!”

“It was a god send yesterday when you called about today’s walk. I was having a bad day, it was so lovely to hear from you and to look forward to this morning’s walk.”

We had just re-started some of our Step by Step (falls prevention) Programme and ActivSteps sessions in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Leiston, when we had to close them all again.  However, that didn’t stop us, and we now provide Better Balance sessions through live zoom streaming on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning. If you would like to join one of the sessions with our OTAGO Instructors Del Keeble and Jo Powley contact Clare Macdonald at the main office on 01473 345350 for more information. We aim to restart face to face sessions, as soon as we are able.



It is very important that through the lockdowns or if you are shielding that you try and keep active. If you are not into live zooming, then why not visit our Activ@Home page on our website where you can find seated exercise videos with Jo.

Please visit: https://activlives.org.uk/activhome/. You will also find quizzes, singing videos and lots more….

 Our Carers Elderflower Hub and our ActivSingers community singing groups remain closed, but Gina Cristallino is still keeping in contact with members and volunteers through regular welfare calls, WhatsApp groups, quiz nights, zoom singing sessions, seated dance videos, sing-a-long videos and socials.Gina has also produced a second CD and song book for those members who cannot access the internet or have a mobile device.

What our members say:

“Apart from exercising muscles I obviously don’t use enough, I feel I am benefiting from the classes

especially as my balance is improving. Also, it gives you a discipline to do these beneficial exercises

and the social interaction is good in spite of me being the only bloke.”

“I feel better after doing the class, but I miss being with the others.” 

Makes us feel good even though, I fancy a rest in the middle and there isn’t one.  I DO NOT LIKE LOCKDOWN.” 

What our members say:

“It was so good to sing again with everyone on zoom yesterday and to hear your lovely voice.

It reminded me how much singing lifts the spirit. Thank you for organising and I look forward to singing again soon.”

“My colleagues at the foodbank know when I’ve had a singing session because I am humming behind my mask as I go around.”

“As a sufferer of depression, I find the singing extremely uplifting and always feel better afterwards.

Gina is a perfect teacher with her balance of fun and musical knowledge.”

“This group keeps me nice and calm and I enjoy the company all round”

Unfortunately, our two lunch clubs at St Mary at Stoke Church & the Ipswich International Church remain closed,

but we are keeping in touch with members and volunteers. Hopefully, they will re-open again later in the year.

Friday Friends

Our Friday Friends Hub is still closed, but Alison Pearson is still supporting Carers and cared for living with Dementia and volunteers through Befriending / Welfare calls, and helping with shopping and organising food parcel delivery and medication collection, as and when required. These calls are helping to reduce anxiety, loneliness and social isolation and signposting people to key health / social care services needed through the lockdown.

What our members say:

“I love this group it keeps me sane”

“Missing you all and I can’t wait until we meet up again”

“Zoom is lovely, I can see everyone and feel really great after a session”

“It’s great to talk daily on WhatsApp”

The ActivGardens Team 

Susannah Robirosa, Beverly Baker, Lesley Hartley and our dedicated key volunteers are helping to maintain our two community Garden sites in Ipswich – The People’s Community Garden and Chantry Walled Garden through the lockdown.

ActivSheds and ‘Grow Your Community’ in Sudbury’s park are currently closed, but will re-open as soon as they can. Staff and volunteers are keeping on top of essential gardening tasks that need doing all year round and looking after our community apiary to keep our lovely bees fed and healthy ready for the Spring.  Some of our LIFT trainees and placements have been able to return to continue to attend their training programmes, which is great news. 

ActivGardens is currently working on a really exciting part of the Bridging the Gap Project in partnership with NSFT, the Woodlands Unit and the Recovery College to develop a new ‘Connecting with Nature’ Webinar, which should be available and on-line in March / April.

We wouldn’t have been able to continue without the help of local and national funders and we can’t thank you enough for your help and support through these challenging times and also for the generous donations from families and the general public to help support our services.  And of course, I can’t forget the staff and key volunteers who have done an amazing job to keep things running, supporting one another and keep in contact with our members. If you would like to know more about our activities and how to become a member, please contact us on 01473 345350

Julie Stokes CEO

A Warm Welcome 

Prior to this lockdown I was able to visit some Better Balance sessions that we have running in Rushmere, St Mary at Stoke, Walton, Woodbridge and Leiston so it has been great to see some of the falls prevention sessions in action.  I also spent time at our ActivSteps session at Castle Hill as well as spending time at the peoples community garden and also the Elderflower carers group, which has helped me see some of the other wonderful things that ActivLives offer.

Currently we are offering our Better Balance falls prevention sessions through Zoom on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning with our instructors Del and Jo.  These are a great way to help people maintain their physical activity and fitness during lockdown whilst also keeping connected to each other.


For people that are not on the internet and would like to keep in touch we are offering some regular welfare calls which are always well received and is a benefit to both.   For those people that had not been outside recently, we have been able to offer 1:1 walks which has helped improve their confidence in their outdoor mobility as well as their fitness.

If anyone would like to join in a zoom session or feels the need for a supported 1:1 walk than do get in touch with either Del or myself on 01473 345350 and we will be happy to help.

  • A Sad Goodbye

I’ve worked at ActivLives for 8 years (which is over 1/4 of my life) and I honestly couldn’t have imagined spending it anywhere else!
I started here as a temporary position helping log attendance forms – but I was given the chance to put my love of design to work. I then became the ‘Head of Media’ (a self-appointed title!), making everything from posters to films, as well as taking photos and managing the website – but I was also regularly challenged.
I helped run the annual Big Garden Party for 6 years straight.
I put together hundreds of Winter Warmer Kits in a cupboard as part of a 2 year project.
And I also came up with the Adopt-A-Bee fundraising project randomly at 2am one summers night!

And now, 8 years later, I’m saying my goodbyes and moving into a new chapter of my life as the Media & Design Manager at Kevin Mayhew Publishers.

It’s very bittersweet, because I can’t wait to start my new job, but I’ll also never forget the amazing people I’ve worked with. Anyone who has been any part of ActivLives – whether as staff, volunteer, or member – you’ll know how much hard work the staff put into running the hubs, tending to the gardens, leading the choirs, and helping members – and I’ve been lucky enough to see it all from behind the curtains, and see how much joy is shared between everyone, and how much good this little charity has brought to the world. And it’s been an amazing experience that I’ll never forget!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup Recipe 

  • 1 butternut squash sliced in half
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock pot with ½ pint of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 slice white bread cubed
  • A sprig of rosemary finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Cream or crème frais to garnish



Place the 2 halves of butternut squash on a baking tray.  Spoon over the olive oil and crushed garlic.  Place in a hot oven (180 C) and roast until soft – about 30 minutes.

Boil a kettle, pour ½ pint of water into a jug with the stock pot.

Place the oil in a frying pan with the rosemary; when the oil is hot add the white bread cubes, turn until brown and crispy.

Use a spoon to remove the soft flesh from the cooled squash and put into a blender with the stock.  Whiz until smooth.

Pour into a bowl, garnish with a spoonful of cream or crème fraiche, add the herby croutons and serve

Recipe by Bev


Turn over a new leaf …..

Grow Your Future at our community garden!

If you are looking for a new direction in 2021 – 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 and employment.

The 12-week scheme will include garden maintenance, horticulture and environmental conservation, with a chance to get involved in specialist activities such as woodworking or bee-keeping.


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.

  • Sign up deadline: By Friday 26 February 2021 – please make an appointment to look around and sign up asap
  • When? You can opt to train on Mondays OR Your start date will be Monday 1 March or Friday 5 March, depending on which day you would like to attend.
  • Where? The People’s Community Garden, Maidenhall Allotments, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE. Access is via pedestrian gate on laneway between Maidenhall Allotments and Bourne Vale Social Club, between Halifax and Wherstead roads.
  • Getting there – Various buses stop nearby – ask for Swansea Road or Montgomery Road stop. Or get off at Maidenhall Green, from where we are a short walk away. There is ample parking at the CRESS Pavilion on Halifax Road.

The programme is funded by the European Social Fund and the Education & Skills funding Agency, and administered by LIFT Community Grants ‘Local Investment in Learning Paths to Work’.


If you would like to find out more, or to book an appointment, please contact Susannah on 07530 407302 or email susannah@activlives.org.ukor call ActivLives office on 01473 345350.


Grow Your Future – ActivLives

ActivGardens – Home | Facebook

Brighten up your mum’s special day with a spring display from The Chantry Walled Garden

We have wonderful pots and bulbs guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your mum when they bloom.

The tulip, narcissus, hyacinth, Allium and grape hyacinth bulbs were kindly supplied by Thompson & Morgan – just across the park from us- in support of our charity. After flowering, the bulbs can be planted out in your garden for you to enjoy.

If you would like to order a pot, they cost £5, please get in touch with Susannah on 07530 407302 on Tuesdays or Thursdays or email susannah@activlives.org.uk.

We can leave your order by our gate at an allotted time for you to safely collect

Community garden has goodies galore

We still have honey in stock and our production line of jams and pickles continues.

Meanwhile, there are greens a-plenty to help boost our immune systems.

Arrange to pick up a homemade/grown package by emailing beverly@activlives.org.uk

Hygiene Certificate for Wayne

Our key volunteer Wayne has completed his hygiene certificate; we take hygiene very seriously at the Cress Pavilion where we make our preserves and bottle up our honey.  He joins Beverly, James and Pat who already hold the certificate

Buy a bird box for the nesting season from our great ActivSheds project

Get ready for the bird nesting season by purchasing one of our many different designs made by our ActivShedders – we have boxes especially made for wrens, robins, tits and sparrow terraces for these very sociable birds.

How about a bird-feeder or bird table to encourage birds to your garden and help them through these cold winter months? It’s amazing how many different species you’ll see if you put out food regularly.

Thanks to Thompson and Morgan

Our local horticultural supplier in Ipswich has donated a huge range of seeds and spring bulbs to ActivGardens.

These will come in handy as gardening season kicks off, while helping raise money for our charity.

Learners and trainees are gaining valuable skills, learning how to plant and sow.

They have given a lift to staff and volunteers as we plant them out in our borders and wait for a wonderful display in Spring!

Thanks so much T&M for supporting us!

We’ll be back together again soon
By Project Officer Beverly Baker

Back together soon……

The community garden is quiet, but it won’t be long until we will all be back together again. Thanks to those who are supporting us and we are missing all those who are waiting to come back.

The Grow Your Future trainees on Mondays continue to attend to learn new horticultural, woodland and cooking skills.  In January the trainees planted new strawberry plants to enable us to make jam in the Summer, they took perennial kale cuttings and planted up the hardwood cuttings taken last year.

In the coming weeks we plan to make some flat breads on an open fire, take new hardwood cuttings to create new forsythia and dogwood plants for next year, take succulent cuttings to create new plants and many more exciting activities. 

The Wednesday placements recycled a Christmas tree into bird feeders, using drills and saws.  They also planted out bulbs in the border potted up lots of mini daffodils and Hyacinths in pots so we can use these when we put together planting arrangements and have some early indoor ones too.  The placements also planted out some pea plants.

 Local garden centre offers support in Sudbury

Family-run Perrywoods Garden Centre is supporting our projects in Sudbury while promoting the benefits of gardening at their Sudbury store.

They plan to put up photos of the volunteers around the store with their personal reasons for volunteering –  keeping fit, beating loneliness, making new friends and supporting the community.  We think that this is a brilliant idea.

Meanwhile, our wonderful Sudbury volunteers have got itchy fingers, as they are not allowed to work in Belle Vue Park during lockdown. But they continue to keep in touch and support each other.

Beverly is regularly contacting them by email, text and telephone.

Volunteers carry on gardening at Chantry

A small team of volunteers are keeping things going at Chantry Walled Garden. We are preparing for Spring – brushing down benches, sorting seeds, planning borders, moving shrubs and taking cuttings.

We hope to grow bedding for Ipswich parks and green spaces from seed this year, as Ipswich Borough Council moves to bee and butterfly friendly schemes and more sustainable planting.

Behind the scenes, working at home, volunteers are preparing information for our plant catalogue and heritage vegetables.

We’re looking forward to welcoming more volunteers just as soon as we can.

  • Quote from Fay, Chantry Walled Garden volunteer:

“I’m so grateful for this place. I would have gone mad without it. I don’t know what I would have done. I’ve met lots of people – lots of children, and lots of dogs!

“It’s made a big difference to my life. When I come to the garden, the first thing I do is I walk all around, see all the flowers, and it gives me a lift.”


As Challenging as the last year has been, our groups at the Cress Pavillion have remained very active. Armed with disinfectant, hand gel and visors, our members have continued to unite, supporting each other through these uncertain times.  Our Elderflower Hub, Nightingale Group and ActivSingers met up every two weeks from September 2020. With the odd gap here and there we have managed to keep active with our chair based exercise sessions and various activities including seasonal quizzes, performances from Gina and our lovely guest Alex Bass with his amazing nature slide shows.

We managed to get each together before Christmas and have a festive activity together, including some very creative festive jumpers! It was not our usual Christmas party however we made the best of the time we had together.

Zooming into 2021…


We have certainly missed our Choirs over the last year, however that has not stopped us! From March 2020 our choirs have stayed in contact by attending our Zoom sessions. It took a while to get most people connected , however with a few teething problems here and there we have finally managed to run successful Zoom sessions on a fortnightly basis. 

Choir leader Gina Cristallino has made two new songbooks over the last year which have been sent out to all the members. These are used in every Zoom sessions, so we are all singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. It’s also a great chance to have a catch up with eachother and have a giggle , its just nice to be part of something.

zoom picture 2020


Donna with ping pong ball

 Inclusive Boccia and Badminton 

Well, what a year 2020 has been! Although for much of the year sport has had to be put on hold as a result of Covid-19, some of our ActivLives groups have been able to continue to play sport in a Covid-19 compliant manner.

Despite the many restrictions that have been placed upon participating in sport and physical activity in recent months, ‘disability sport’ has had an exemption from these at various times throughout the year. Because of this, two sports that we have managed to continue with have been boccia and badminton.

“During the summer months we were able to play boccia and badminton outdoors in local parks in Ipswich, which was a great way of us getting our ‘Inclusive groups’ back to playing after the first lockdown ended in July”, said Mike McCarthy. “During the autumn we were able to play both sports indoors, apart from during the second lockdown period in November. Obviously, we had to ensure that we were meeting all of the UK Government Covid-19 Guidelines, as well as those of Boccia England and Badminton England.


The response of the players, and their families, over the last few months has been absolutely brilliant. Everyone has adapted to the restrictions and guidelines that we have had to put into place in order to return to play safely – the positive attitude to returning from players, families and volunteers, has been great to see”.

 Who knows what 2021 will bring? Whatever happens next, we do know that we have a lot of very committed participants who hope to get back to playing ‘inclusive sport’.

The Suffolk team did the county proud by winning a number of medals including two Golds won by Donna Wyatt and Harry Creasey, who both topped their respective divisions.

The team completed a great day by taking part in the Team Relay event, a competition that puts all of the competitors into mixed teams across all of the abilities and groups represented on the day.

If you would like to get involved with Inclusive Special Olympics Badminton in Suffolk (the group is based in Ipswich), please contact Mike McCarthy at mike@activlives.org.uk or call on 01473 345350.

Zooming into the New Year!

Zooming into the New Year!

ActivChoirs Keep Connected

Our Activsingers have started the year off with a Zoom! Our Woodbridge and Ipswich group have now combined and we are meeting every two weeks for a catch-up and a sing song through our new songbooks. If you are a member and want help getting set up on Zoom, please do not hesitate to give Gina a call on 07495662204.

Our next Zoom meeting for our ActivSingers is on Friday 22nd January at 1pm.







ActivLives Message – 13.01.21

ActivLives Message – 13.01.21

Due to the latest Government announcement and lockdown restrictions, ActivLives had to close all of our activity sessions again, including ActivSheds, the Sudbury project and limit the access to our two community gardens in Ipswich.

Staff are still able to access the office at Brightspace.


What are we doing during the Lockdown?

  • 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.
  • The ActivOut and About Project continues to support people on a one to one basis who live on their own, are vulnerable or need some social contact and exercise to help with their physical / mental health. The walk may just be around the streets or in a park or green space. We are very grateful to Active Suffolk and Sport England for their support with this initiative. All our other ActivSports sessions are closed at the moment.
  • Having been able to re-start our Step by Step (falls prevention) and ActivSteps sessions in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Leiston, we have now had to close them all again. However, we are providing Better Balance sessions through live streaming on a Monday, Tuesday and Thursday morning. If you would like to join one of the sessions with our OTAGO Instructors Del Keeble and Jo Powley contact Clare Macdonald at the main office on 01473 345350 for more information. We will restart face to face sessions, as soon as we are able. The Step by Step (Falls Prevention) programme is funded by Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG. We are still accepting referrals from health professionals, Social Prescribing Link workers and self-referral.
  • It is very important that through the lockdowns or if you are shielding that you try and keep active. If you are not into live zooming, then why not visit our Activ@Home page on our website where you can find seated exercise videos with Jo. Please visit: https://activlives.org.uk/activhome/. You will also find quizzes, singing videos and lots more….
  • Our Carers Elderflower Hub, Friday Friends Hub and our ActivSingers community singing groups remain closed, but we are keeping in contact with members and volunteers through regular welfare calls, WhatsApp groups and zoom singing sessions and socials.
  • We are still working on the Bridging the Gap Project in partnership with NSFT / Willows Unit and the Recovery College and are currently working on a new ‘Connecting with Nature’ Webinar, which should be available in March.
  • Our two lunch clubs at St Mary at Stoke Church & the Ipswich International Church remain closed but we are keeping in touch with members and volunteers. Hopefully, they will reopen again later in the year.
  • Our Befriending / Welfare calls, shopping / food parcel delivery and medication collection will also continue, with our most vulnerable members / carers to help reduce their anxiety, loneliness and social isolation caused by the lockdown.
  • ActivGardens – Our two Community Gardens in Ipswich are temporarily closed due to the current lockdown. Our provisional re-opening date is Monday 1st March. This also includes ActivSheds and ‘Grow Your Community’ in Sudbury’s park.


Essential work at the gardens and community apiary will continue with key volunteers and some placements will be able to continue to attend their programmes – by prior arrangement with staff.

  • Please do keep in touch with all the activities at ActivGardens via the ActivLives website and social media, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need more information. Please visit: activlives.org.uk


We are obviously following Government COVID-19 Guidance to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and members. We will reopen our activity sessions when it is safe to do so, but in the meantime, we will keep in touch with our members / volunteers 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 the lockdowns. If you require any further information, please contact us on 01473 345350.

Please stay safe.


Julie Stokes CEO


Make sure you follow us on Facebook to keep up with everything – www.facebook.com/activlives

ActivLives Newsletter – December 2020

ActivLives Newsletter – December 2020

In light of the UK lockdown, we unfortunately won’t be bringing our usual bright and colourful newsletter to you this quarter.
However, here’s an electronic version with the added benefit of bigger photos!


Festive Market a HUGE Success!
Our team at the community garden pulled out all the stops to put on a fabulous festive market on 4th December, and thanks to all our supporters, we made a whopping £568!

As well as freshly picked produce and cheerful plants to brighten up winter days, we had an amazing array of gifts, all made by our volunteers and learners.

Visitors braved the first really bad weather of the season to browse our original range of gifts such as – bee products – including bee bombs, candles and lip balm – a delicious selection of jams, jellies and chutneys, strings of chillies and many other decorations, pine cone firelighters and bird feeders, woolly hats and furry brooches, and a fantastic display of wooden items by the ActivSheds team.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the day the success it was.

It’s not too late to pick up a gift from us! Festive goods will continue to be on sale from our polytunnels until we close for Christmas on 18th December.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas. Thank you for all your support in this very challenging year. We look forward to seeing you in 2021! Gardening and access to the great outdoors has never been more important. The gardens reopen on Monday 4th Janaury 2021.

Grow Your Future learners move on to pastures new as new faces start their garden adventure

Our learners have enjoyed a productive three months at the community garden, and are now moving into work experience in a variety of roles – supporting others, trying their hand at flower arranging with a professional florist, and working at Chantry Walled Garden.

As well as taking part in all aspects of horticulture and gardening, beekeeping and nature conservation – including scything our wild meadow with a local expert, they got involved in preparing for the market too, including making pickles and jams, apple-pressing, harvesting honey and making crafts.

The group is busy looking at progression routes into further training or employment, while our third group of 10 learners enrolled in November, and is now settling in.

These free courses are funded by the European Social Fund.

We still have spaces on this course, which resumes in January. Please get in touch if you or someone you know or support would like to take part.

Grow to Learn gives young and old a taste of the great outdoors

Leading Lives Community Benefit fund has enabled us to provide taster sessions for people with additional needs, both at our gardens and at our ActivSheds project.

Our weekly sessions have enabled young people to enjoy a range of gardening and nature conservation activities, alongside cooking, jam-making and other activities.

While these sessions are fun to take part in, they also enable people to develop practical skills and encourage important attributes such as good communication, ability to work as part of a team and willingness to take on responsibility.

Meanwhile, over at the ActivSheds, Ralph has helped men with living with a range of conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke and post-traumatic stress disorder, to get involved in making, doing, repairing, recycling, upcyling and everything to do with wood.

Those who take part enjoy socialising with others and sharing their skills and knowledge.


  • Thanks to South West Area Committee for funding our pop-up garage, which enables more people to take part in a safe, socially-distanced way.

Women’s Shed is now in Action!

Our merry band of ‘she shedders’ now meet every other Thursday afternoon, making all sorts of items from windmill sails (model, of course) to teddy trugs for grandchildren.

We also held a craft afternoon, flower arranging session, jam-making sessions and apple pressing as part of our Women’s Skills Exchange.

  • Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved.

Walled Garden volunteers bring power of flowers to parks

Chantry Walled Garden volunteers, led by David Sheedy, grew an astounding 14,000 spring bedding plants for Ipswich parks and green spaces.

The pansies and polyanthus were collected by Ipswich Borough Council Parks team in October to be planted all around the town.

As one of our customers said: “It’s so important to have flowers during these difficult times. I’m going to enjoy seeing them all planted out.”

The plants arrive to our nursery as tiny plug plants in August, which then have to be carefully potted up and grown on, to be in peak condition for planting out in autumn. These plants will keep blooming right through winter and into spring.

Thanks to all our team who worked so hard and made such a tremendous effort.

    Helping hands from local business

    Our Wild Zone benefited from Do Good’s corporate networking team in October, when a group of seven people from various local business came to the People’s Community Garden.

    We were delighted to welcome Councillor Nadia Cenci – who has been a great supporter of the gardens over the years – as part of the team, setting her to work on raking up grass as habitat piles and sowing wildflower seed.

    We hope to welcome back Do Good in 2021.

      School puts finishing touches to their new garden with a bit of help from us!

      Lesley visited Stoke High – Ormiston Academy to help children with additional needs put the finishing touches to their garden at the front of the school.

      We took over a selection of plants which children enthusiastically planted up.

      Community librarian Jane Riches, who has led the project for the school, said: “All of the children in this group enjoy getting outside, they feel more relaxed working in a small group and love the garden. 

      “They dug up 60 potatoes yesterday, yes they actually counted them!”

        Update from Belle Vue Park, Sudbury – Bev

        Our volunteers continue to improve the beds at Belle Vue Park. We have been clearing the woodland area of the park. We have cut back large shrubs, cleared pathways, we have moved non-woodland plants and have replaced them with English Bluebell bulbs and woodland plants such as Pulmonaria and Cyclamen.   Perrywoods in Sudbury very kindly donated £50 to enable us to purchase more woodland plants.

        We are putting leaf mould on the beds to protect the dahlia tubers.  The tender plants have been moved to Chantry Walled Garden and winter bedding plants and perennials have gone in.  The Community Wardens have given us a quantity of woodchip that has been placed next to our compost bins ready to use next year.

        We have provided work experience placements for students at the Ryes College – which provides education and care to young people with complex needs. The students have been very courteous and hard-working. They have integrated into the Sudbury team very well with support from Liz Brightwell and other staff from the school.

        Our volunteers say they have become much closer during lockdown – forming friendships, meeting outside of the project to enjoy other activities together, and supporting each other – running errands for each other and calling each other to make sure they are okay.

          “I love gardening. It’s good for my health.  I have made friends at the ActivGardens group and have recently started to support Sudbury in Bloom with Julia.”


          “I need to socialise with others.  I have made friends with Bev and the other volunteers.  I go walking on a Tuesday with Rosemary and meet Bernie to tend the garden at the Railway station.  Gardening keeps me fit, mentally and physically.”


          “I joined to learn life skills and enjoy talking to other volunteers – it makes me feel very happy and useful.”



          Getting Out & About with ActivLives!
          ActivLives members have had the chance to get out of their houses, and go on mini health walks with ActivLives staff – meaning they can get weekly exercise, while staying safe and supervised!

          These have happened in one-to-one sessions, as well as in small socially-distanced groups.

          Here’s what some members have had to say:

          “I enjoy exercising with someone else, it really helps to motivate me.

          “The exercises that we are doing remind of what we would normally do at our badminton sessions.

          “I am feeling so much fitter as a result of these (exercise) sessions, I really enjoy the challenge.”


          “It has been so lovely to go for a walk somewhere different (on the heath), it’s not something that I would feel safe doing on my own.” 


          “I have been stuck in the house for so long, these walks are great.

          “I am seeing places that I have never been to before, and I have lived for over 40 years!

          “Thank you Mike, it’s really good to see you both again.

          “My Daughter in Law said ‘Go for it’, when I told her about the walks. I’m so glad that I did!”



          After successfully re-opening some of our Better Balance sessions as well as our ActivSteps session back in September following the end of the first lockdown, another lockdown meant that these had to stop temporarily after not long being started!  During lockdown 2 we were able to offer live exercise sessions via Zoom where some members were able to participate in their exercise class with their instructor from the comfort of their own homes.  This worked really well, with very few technical difficulties and allowed people to maintain their fitness whilst keeping connected with others. 

          Now that Lockdown 2 has finished we have been able to reopen some of our classes again whilst following Covid safety measures.   We ensure that members are 2 metres apart whilst participating in their exercise, frequently sanitise, follow social distancing and face masks are worn (although these can be removed during the exercise).   We are operating 2 Better Balance sessions on a Tuesday morning at Rushmere Village Hall as well as 3 sessions at Walton Community Centre on a Tuesday morning.  St Mary at Stoke Church Hall also has a session running on a Tuesday morning. Our ActivSteps group continues to run at Castle Hall Community Centre on a Thursday morning and Woodbridge also has 2 sessions running at the Fred Reynolds Centre, also on a Thursday morning. 

          We were also pleased to have welcomed back some members to our Leiston Better Balance session on Wednesday 9th December.  This was the first time this group had returned since March and it was lovely to see people back at the King George Community Centre.  Comments from our members were “it’s really good to be back”.

          As some venues are still not opening up, we have been trying to seek alternative venues for some of our other groups.  We are very grateful to the Kingfisher Pub at Chantry which is temporarily hosting our Monday morning class.

          We are making lots of wellbeing phone calls to keep in touch with our members and hope that it won’t be too much longer until we are able to resume all of our Better Balance sessions.  We look forward to seeing those members that have not yet been able to return to their class as well as welcoming new people who are interested in joining.

          Message from ActivLives – 27.11.20

          Message from ActivLives – 27.11.20

          Just to let everyone know how ActivLives is managing the lockdowns and Government and Sport’s Bodies restrictions and how we are continuing to support our members and volunteers.

          We have been able to keep our Community Gardens in Ipswich and our Sudbury Garden project open safely, with the support of our dedicated teams of volunteers who are helping to maintain the gardens and grow plants and produce for the local community. The volunteers in Sudbury have been working hard to keep Belle Vue Park looking lovely and keeping on top of the weeding and tidying in preparation for the winter months.

          The staff and volunteers are also working hard to prepare all sorts of jams, pickles,  Honey, fresh produce, bird boxes, garden items, crafts and lots more for the Christmas Market on December 4th at the People’s Community Garden, Halifax Rd from 10am – 1pm. Please come along…

          We have also been able to keep various projects running such as ‘Grow Your Future’ which is giving people skills, work experience and support in finding employment as well as building confidence, self-esteem and helping people with anxiety and depression cope through the lockdowns and the pandemic.

          ActivSheds has been able to keep open with a limited number of volunteers and with the new outside cover funded by SW Ipswich Area Committee, we now have more space for people to enjoy the Shed and keep socially distanced.

          Unfortunately, the Better Balance sessions that we managed to get up and running after the first lockdown had to close again, but for those that could access the internet the instructors have been running live zoom exercise sessions and seated dance and chair-based exercise to keep people moving and connected.

          We have established WhatsApp Groups, run zoom socials and sing-a-longs, including our Friday Friends Hub and kept in touch with our members from all our different activities with the Befriending / Welfare calls to help get people through this very difficult and anxious time.

          During lockdown 2 our ActivOut and About Project returned to 1-1 ‘walks and talks’, encouraging people living alone to have a walk in the fresh air to help with their physical and mental health.

          Check out our Activ@Home page on our Website for exercise / singing videos, quizzes and our themed reminiscence project ‘That Reminds Me’ for things to do at home.

          We are now planning to re-open safely again on the 2nd December, so that some of our Better Balance, Inclusive Sports groups and Carers Hubs can meet again before the Christmas and New Year holiday. We hope to get more of our sessions running in the New Year, if we can.

          A big thank you again goes out to all our funders who have helped to keep the organisation going through 2020 and the generous donations that people have sent in, even people who don’t use our services – thank you.

          Thank you to all the staff, freelance staff and volunteers for your patience, flexibility, creativity and dedication in supporting ActivLives and keeping things going through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year for all of us.

          For any information about any of our services or activities please contact the office on – 01473 345350 or visit www.activlives.org.uk

          ActivLives recognises World Mental Health Day on the 10th October 2020

          ActivLives recognises World Mental Health Day on the 10th October 2020

          Mental Health is everyone’s business, especially now. Having good mental health, emotional health and well-being is as important as having good physical health.

           We are all affected differently and our mental health can change as circumstances change or as things happen through the different stages of life.

          ActivLives provides a wide range of activities in Ipswich, Sudbury, Stowmarket and East Suffolk to help and support people with mental health problems and people living with Dementia and their Carers.

          We are currently working in partnership with the Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Recovery College and the Woodlands Unit at Ipswich Hospital on the successful ‘Bridging the Gap’ Project, funded by Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG/ Suffolk Community Foundation.

          The project introduces service users, their carers and families and staff to community services that can support people after discharge. We can help people reconnect with their communities, enable people to learn new skills, support people to be kind to themselves and manage their mental health better, meet and make new friends, build their confidence and help people cope with and manage change, anxiety and uncertainty.

          Two strands of ActivLives are involved with the project ActivSports and ActivGardens. The gardens are a great way for people to connect with nature, conservation and the environment, learn new skills, build confidence and meet and make new friends.


          Enjoy a lovely relaxing tour with Lesley at the People’s Community Garden, located at IBC Maidenhall Allotments in Ipswich. Meet some of our staff and volunteers who help nurture and maintain the gardens and grow fresh produce and plants for the local community. For more information contact our main office on 01473 345350.

          ActivLives is now gradually and safely re-opening our activity sessions, where we can. We are following strict hygiene and Government Guidelines and providing Covid-secure environments for people to re-connect with friends and their weekly activities.