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Reopenings and Reunions at Guideposts

Our face-to-face adult services have been opening up gradually over the last month.  Although we have kept in touch and offered online services, phone calls and sent fun things to do in the post, it’s not the same as being together.

Our members had been so excited about coming back, many had been asking daily when we would re-open. For members with learning disabilities we prepared with videos of the team with their full PPE on so that there wouldn’t be too much hesitancy over recognising us, and were looking forward to a very warm reunion.

In preparation for re-opening, four of our Hubs have had some well-deserved T.L.C. In Witney for GLADS we installed new flooring and repainted; at our Stroud Hub similarly flooring and paintwork were refreshed, as well as installing a new disabled toilet; and at Henry Smith House in Watford we also have new easy-clean flooring and furniture. It will all help with maintaining good sanitisation, as well as freshening up our décor.

GLADS

GLADS re-opened first, on 15th March. All the members are arranged in ‘bubbles’ to limit the number of contacts each person has.  We have also split up the group between several venues – which leads to its own challenges – so that we can allow for distancing and have a smaller number of people in each venue.

Wellbeing walks are part of our daily activities, to enjoy the fresh air and contribute to our general health while joining in with the Guideposts Global Challenge (click the link to sponsor us)!  We have so far clocked up an amazing 640 miles. The other day a group from Station Lane were especially pleased to meet a group from Three Rivers on their walk, and there were very warm, although necessarily distanced, greetings all round.

When inside, we are getting back to activities including art, puzzles and games. We have separate boxes of pens and pencils for each person, and have to quarantine shared equipment for 3 days between uses so there’s quite a lot to organise, but we are getting the systems down to a fine art now.

It’s making a big difference to our members, and to their families who have been 24/7 carers during lockdown.

“The last lockdown was awful, it was really hard work – for both of us. We were both feeling fed up and wondering when it was going to end.  This week Sofi has been at GLADS for 2 days, and even after just that short time she’s in a really good mood. There is less tension about her, which means I can also be more relaxed.”

Sofi’s Mum

Dig’n’Grow

Dig’n’Grow also returned mid-March. We are really glad to have the Outdoor Wellbeing Hub at Paradise Fields, where we have plenty of space for everyone and we are naturally outdoors. We have a strong focus on cleanliness and wearing masks of course, but it’s certainly less complicated than in our indoor spaces.  

Our Dig’n’Grow members were really happy to be back, but it has been a bit of a struggle to readjust back to the routine.  We revisited the procedures for hand-washing, and also had to reacquaint ourselves with our boots and how to tie laces after all this time at home in slippers! We have noticed how everyone’s tolerance levels are a bit lower than they used to be, but after a few weeks we can already see the improvement in mood and sociability.

This time of year is wonderful as there’s plenty to do planting seeds and seeing the seedlings appear then potting them on. It’s a great sociably activity as we all sit around our big table for planting. The signs of renewal and growth are there to see!

We have had some great days with both Dig’n’Grow and our Dreamcatcher Forest School members at the Outdoor Hub over the Easter holidays. There was some lovely bonding between the generations, and the children all said they want to go to Dig’n’Grow when they are older.

Stroud Hub

Our members returned to the Stroud Hub a week later, and were very impressed to see the improvements to the building. We have a limited number of people attending at the moment, and everyone’s had their first vaccination dose, so they felt safest to stay in the building and limit their contacts that way. 

The most important catch-up has been through chatting.  We have addressed some Covid-19 concerns that are still very present for many people, as well as sharing what everyone’s been doing whilst at home.

On the fun side, we have been getting back to the creative arts, including making paper maché bowls and fluffy caterpillars, and playing music collaboratively using handbells and song charts facilitated by our musical support worker, Hester.

Henry Smith House

In Watford our first step at getting back to in-person services has been some meetings with members one-to-one in the community, and for a few small groups to meet again. The art therapy has been first group to start and we are gradually adding more, including outside activities.  

As we do so we are testing the water to find out if and how we can join together online and in-person services. We have found that each format has their own advantages, and the challenge to explore is how to combine the two to best effect.

Ware Community Activities

The Ware Hub at Cross Street is also undergoing some refurbishment, which isn’t quite complete yet so we have been gradually meeting our members for a one-to-one socially-distanced chat or drink outside in the community setting.  We’ve been glad of the sunny weather to make it all the more enjoyable! 

“I love meeting with our clients as I feel I can make their day better than usual. It’s rewarding to see our service users smiling when they meet their friends for the first time in a year.” 

Monika, support worker

When we do get back into our Cross Street Hub, we’re looking forward to re-opening our sensory room, as well as a gardening project, computing, story-writing/drama, arts & crafts and more.

Coming soon… 

Our CONNECT groups at Gloucester Farmers Club and Whitminster are the next to re-open, in mid-May.  Our aims to relieve isolation are never more relevant than now – we can’t wait to see everyone.

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