A lot of fun at the allotment

Over the past few months our Mansfield Street based Support Worker, Lucy, has taken groups of clients to work on Space Inclusive’s very own allotment.

Lucy has had her own allotment on the site for six years. After looking for a site to use to launch her Grow, Cook and Eat scheme STAA (St Anns Allotment Association) very kindly offered us the shared use of the nursery. Additionally, they let Space Inclusive use the site rent free for twelve months.

Because of the previous user, the site was already set up with great facilities including a shared eating space and an incredible 50ft glass house!

The wonderful thing about allotments is the knowledge and understanding of self-sufficiency that a client can get out of working on it. To be able to grow your own fruit and vegetables helps teach clients about healthy eating and gives them an appreciation of nature and the world around them.

One client, Kate, has been helping out since May. “I’ve done planting, weeding, watering, chopping hedges, composting and growing tomatoes.” she says. “It’s nice and peaceful…it helps me relax”. So, has she got the gardening bug? Yes – “I’ll definitely carry on” she says.

Kate has already had a chance to try some of the produce from the garden, which is all organic. “I’ve had cucumbers, peppers and courgettes” she says.

Lucy is delighted with how the allotment has progressed, “It’s been a great opportunity to enable clients to experience nature through growing their own produce. We’ve gone from sowing to planting out and harvesting…”

“Having the opportunity to pick from fresh organic vegetables which are prepared and cooked on site for a shared meal has been fantastic” Lucy says.

The allotment is a relatively new innovation but it’s become an indispensable part of Space Inclusive.

Wear it well

A group of our Pelham Road clients have just finished a four month work placement at a local charity.

Sharewear is a charity providing free clothing, shoes and bedding to people in crisis in Nottinghamshire. They also have an outreach scheme to help as many people in need as possible, who for whatever reason are not able to make it to their referral sessions. It’s run completely by volunteers.

The role of our eager group of clients was to sort through the donations into different categories. For each item we had to do a quality check making sure the clothes didn’t have stains or rips and making sure it was suitable to wear.
The group learned a lot of new skills such as sorting, folding, and working with new people.

By the end of it all the group had developed good relationships with all the other workers there and were able to go work without the help of our support workers.

Over the time we helped out at Sharewear we formed a really great relationship with the charity. It’s certainly boosted the confidence of our clients, who received a certificate of achievement for their time volunteering there.

Now we have a new group of clients that have just started on a work placement there. Best of luck to them!

All sewn up

A group of our Pelham Road clients have been busy in the past few weeks at a textile workshop on a Thursday.
In the first week, clients started to make pillowcases and bags – something they chose to do themselves. This helped show Karen, the tutor, what level of skill clients had.

In week two, clients started to create some owl pillows. They pinned the pattern they created to fabric and cut out the shapes. Some also helped using the sewing machine.

In the third and fourth weeks, clients made candles. They also learnt how to make bunting.

Skills gained from the workshop include, working as a team, social interaction with others and learning new skills such as using the sewing machine in the correct way. What’s more, fun was had by all!

Bowled Over!

At Space Inclusive you’ll probably have gathered by now that we put a real emphasis on physical health as much as mental health.

There are so many sports that we have participated in over the years – tennis, cycling, swimming – however one sport a group of us are doing at the moment is a bit different to these; that’s because it’s a sport that isn’t just about physicality but tactics – it’s Bowls!

Organised in conjunction with two coaches from Disability Bowls England, we attended Rushcliffe Leisure Centre for several weeks. Our clients learnt how to throw a ball properly – which requires some technical skill I can tell you!

The two coaches set up a fun course in which clients (and support workers who also played) would score points by going through hoops and landing on different areas of the green.

Over the course of time our clients gained confidence and thoroughly enjoyed their weekly trip. It was especially beneficial to clients who may not have usually thought of doing sport.

We’d like to thank both of the superb coaches from Disability Bowls England for their work in making sure that everyone had a fun time and could genuinely claim by the end of it that, not only had they improved, but they were becoming pretty nifty at bowls!

On Target

We’ve got loads of new and fun activities which our clients are doing this year; one of the most fun is an Archery course that some of our Pelham Road clients have started at the Southglade Leisure Centre.

Archery is in Nottinghamshire’s DNA – you only have to think about Robin Hood to know that! In fact, there is still a law from Medieval times that states “All men under the age of sixty years shall have bows and arrows for shooting.” So technically, our clients are doing their civic duty by obeying this law!

More seriously though, archery is a fantastic way of improving hand-eye co-ordination and is also a new sport for many of our clients. Everyone who went thoroughly enjoyed it and they’re looking forward to going every Thursday for the next few weeks.

It’s Good to Talk

Our Communications Worker, James, on his experience of giving a talk to another organisation.

On Wednesday I was privileged to represent both Space Inclusive and myself in delivering a talk to staff at Crocus Fields, an organisation for people with disabilities, in the Meadows.

I was there following an invitation from Pete Corkhill, a Unit Manager at Crocus Fields, who saw a recent article I wrote about my experience of having both Asperger’s and Depression.

I focused my talk on my personal experience, then I fielded some brilliant questions from the staff who were attending the talk. Questions were varied and interesting, from the importance of differentiation between Mental Health and Neurological conditions, to how some employers’ attitudes to Mental Health and Autism still need to change.

I also created an infographic hand-out that went down well with the attendees. It highlighted starkly the importance of understanding the link – and the difference – between Autism and Mental Health issues.

I was extremely pleased and happy it went so well. I’d especially like to thank Pete Corkhill who was my primary contact and made me feel very welcome at Crocus Fields.

Groups like Space Inclusive and Crocus Fields aren’t in competition. We’re all working together in our community to make sure young people with learning difficulties get the personalised, high quality service they deserve.

Question Time

At Space Inclusive we’ve always been interested in branching out to support parents and carers as well as our clients.

Whilst our main focus is our clients, we want to make sure parents and carers get the support they need too.

With this is mind, we have been working on the idea of a Parents and Carers Forum. It’s early days yet and, at the moment, this is still just an idea. That’s why we’d like feedback from parents and carers; because, from the outset, we want this forum to be focussed on what you, collectively, would want from such a forum.

We’ve sent an e-mail out with an attachment to the questionnaire as well as sending hardcopies out, so if you’re a parent or carer please fill it in and watch this space!

What a racket!

A group of clients from Pelham Road have started a beginners Tennis course and are thoroughly enjoying it!

They all have very different levels of ability but are all enjoying giving it a go. To start off with, in the first session the instructor initiated a few games using the racket that help with hand-eye co-ordination.

Later on in the course our clients will learn to play the game of Tennis itself. We’d like to thank Suzzi Garnett, the community officer from Tennis in Nottingham, for taking the session and our clients are looking forward to coming back to learn more over the next few weeks!

All in the mind

Our Communications Worker James has written this article to mark World Mental Health Day 2016 – Monday 10 October.

It’s a fact that Mental Health issues and Autism are interlinked. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I can attest to this myself having suffered from Depression. However, it’s not just my personal experience that bears this out.

More than 40% of people with Autism have a least one anxiety disorder at any one time. This is compared to 15% in the general UK population. Depression is also very common. At least 20% of the general population have Depression at any one time, but in people with Autism it is significantly higher.

What are the causes? Well, firstly it’s the struggle to cope with everyday life. For people without Autism that can be difficult, but when you struggle to focus on things and get confused by the world around you it can be a lot worse. People with Autism and other learning difficulties can often find it hard to cope with people looking at them disapprovingly.

But there are ways that we can change this.

Firstly, an increased awareness of the link between Autism and Mental Health issues. If the general public can understand its prevalence then they will begin to be more accepting of it when they see it.

Secondly, openness about it. There’s nothing shameful about having Mental Health issues. In fact, it’s quite understandable if you look at it dispassionately.

Thirdly, making friends and having more social connections. Many people with Autism can end up isolating themselves from society, whether by circumstance or choice. By making friends, doing activities and generally getting out and about, positive change can happen. And that’s where Space Inclusive comes in handy too. We provide activities and social interaction for our clients, and because of that they are happier and feel they can achieve more. Their self-esteem is lifted!

So, on World Mental Health Day 2016 spare a thought for people with Autism and other Learning difficulties who have mental health problems.

They’re also a valuable part of our society!