Kite festival volunteers

Community Lives - Learning Disability services in RBWM Volunteering in our local Communities and supporting others.

The purpose of community lives is to support people to do activities that are meaningful and purposeful, and help people play an active part in their community. Some people we support choose to take part in volunteering while they are with us. There are lots of different schemes that our good citizens are involved with, including recycling projects that help look after the environment and goodwill projects that help people in need. Volunteers from our Community Lives services have supported a number of events in RBWM, over the past year.

In Windsor, volunteers, Grant, Elliott and Julian have helped at the Easter and Christmas Fairs organised by the ‘Clewer and Dedworth Together’ group, in partnership with Woody’s Café. These events have become increasingly popular with the aim of bringing the neighbourhood together.

Grant added: 

“I really enjoyed the Christmas fare, working there. It let me talk to Elliot and John. I liked talking to the South African stall about the food I have tried before, and the Natural habitat stall was very interesting. I helped a woman mind a stall while they took a break. I like supporting my neighbourhood learning about other social groups.”

Our volunteers helped by ensuring that the people attending knew where to go and offered support where needed to make sure that everyone had a great time. We also showcased our talented ArtAble groups, selling a range of gifts expertly promoted by Julie and Jade.

Elliot said: 

“I enjoy being out with my friends, looking at the stalls and having a coffee. It’s very good helping people and something useful to do at the weekend.”

In Maidenhead we have continued to develop our links with Norden Farm Centre for the Arts. Presenting the fantastic hand-crafted gifts made by the ArtAble groups, at their Outdoor Markets. The ArtAble groups are run from Boyn Grove and meet during the week Mon - Thurs. Katie and Rachel have helped run the stalls and enjoyed talking to customers and meeting other stall holders, as well as trying the Hot Chocolate and cakes being sold. A great way of supporting each other!

This led to being asked to run the ‘Swallows Nest’ Craft area at the Norden Farm Kite Festival on Boyn Hill in the summer. Jade helped the children as they decorated swallows to be hung around the nest and Grant supported around the site, directing people to the various areas/ zones.

Jade adds:

"I really enjoyed seeing new people and talking to the customers who brought things from the Stall. Helping out made me feel confident and happy.”

Being visible breaks down barriers and being able to share the skills and talents of people with support needs and make positive contributions, helps people to understand that our differences should be celebrated.

Talking of celebrations, this year the Parallel Windsor event was held for the first time in Windsor Great Park. We supported this event, which is fully inclusive, by celebrating with others and joining in the challenges. Our Community Lives Team promoted the fantastic opportunities across our Optalis services and made lots of new friends, contacts, and ideas for new experiences.

The people that use our Community Lives services are keen to make a difference to others who may need help at times. This year, customers from our service based at Oakbridge chose to support 2 local charities: Windsor Food Share and Thames Hospice. Elliott and Grant offered their support by volunteering at the Thames Hospice Sunflower Walk in the Summer and raised money by selling cards on the day made by the customers and organising a Fete at Oakbridge too. The Young Voices group have collected and taken food donations to the Windsor Food share and held a Harvest Festival to raise money for this much needed cause, utilising their cooking and baking skills by making and selling soup and cakes.

We are already looking forward to next year as we plan to continue supporting our Community Groups and extending our network of possibilities.

Working together offers benefits to all.

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