Helping our community out!

21st September 2015 13:39

This blog was written by James Hinde, Research Director

On a dull Monday morning in September we set off on our usual journey like everyone else.  Except today was a little different, asHelping our community out! we had taken up the opportunity of a volunteer day with Together Trust.  One of their supported living services had an outhouse that had fallen into disuse and a  dream had emerged to turn the outhouse into a sensory room for their young residents.  We were there to get the outhouse into shape and to start the process of turning their dream to reality by repainting and tidying up the outside.

We arrived to the care home and one of the residents, Dom, was sat smiling in the sunlit conservatory at the back of the house.  He was on his way out and excited about the day, as was James, the other resident.  Both have severe learning and physical disabilities, but are well looked after by Together Trust. 

Jennifer from Together Trust met us and went through the day.  Mike the care home manager had got the materials ready for us and after a quick brew we set about our painting work in the garden. 

The last time I had been involved in painting was my parents’ fence when I was 16.  Despite my own feeling of triumph at the time my parents had to re-do my work and only told me 20 years later. Claire, my colleague for the day had more experience having recently moved into a new house, so my hopes rested on her.  But we were nervous and shared fears that this would be like the episodes of DIY SOS they can never show.

After some sanding, then careful painting, it started to come together.  Claire did the difficult bits and I set about the large surfaces.  Mike went to get a step ladder from his house so we could reach the top safely.  There was some rain, but it soon stopped.  We made good progress in the morning and time flew by.  We were rewarded with a smorgasbord lunch of mixed sandwiches, pork pies and mini-cheddars. 

Helping our community out!After lunch we finished off the painting, put down a second coat, brushed down the decking, painted the bordering fence panels and tidied up whilst the sun came out in recognition of our work.  Dom and James, the residents were back now and watched us with smiles and the occasional wave whilst we worked. 

We decided the area needed some colour and went to the local Homebase to buy some potting plants.  We also wanted to find some solar powered fairy lights to decorate with, but this was an ambition too far and they were not in stock.  The plants were placed on a hanging basket and some pots surrounding the outhouse.  It looked great.  

We were the first to take up the newly introduced benefit of a volunteering paid leave day from our employer DJS Research.  For us it was an enjoyable, memorable day and a chance to give a little to the local community as well as a change from the office.  For our employer it is a convenient benefit to offer, improves employee morale and skills equivalent to an expensive team building exercise whilst enabling the company to show its commitment to the local community.        

We were delighted with our work and after some thanks and congratulation from the residents and staff we left to tell our friends and family what we’d done and to show the pictures.  We look forward to being invited back to the opening of the sensory room and when we do we’ll be sure to pick up some fairy lights just to give it that last final touch.

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