From Cowes Shed to outdoor learning for special needs.

From Cowes Shed to outdoor learning for special needs.

By Col Stocker

Storeroom2010 is a registered furniture re-use charity that has been operating for 10 years, during which they have established a men's shed group aimed primarily at retired people. This provides a workshop, hobby room and gardens for use by the community, of course they use the term 'mens shed' loosely, with 25% of their members being women.

Adam let us know a bit more about what they are doing and how this year has been going for them.

"We are targeting social isolation in the community and aim to improve members mental and physical health, targeting those who are falling through the cracks and, whilst not necessarily physically ill, are certainly suffering with mental health issues as a result of Covid-19 and its fallout. Through this difficult year we have been able to collect members who do not feel comfortable in using public transport due to Covid-19 fears and provide a safer and psychologically less daunting means of travelling to Storeroom2010's Cowes Men's Shed. If this were not available, many members would have been isolated at home and would not come to us to talk with other members (at a safe distance with face coverings and hand washing stations) or engage in activities. We have offered extra support during Covid-19, contacting members via phone & online, and making deliveries to their homes."

So it's been great to see that some help from the Alpkit Foundation has added a little extra for them to continue to support their members by providing a safe space for them to make use of, to continue to be able reach out to members still shielding or in quarantine - through conversation and the purchasing and delivering of essentials.

"Engaging people in our gardens has had a noticeably therapeutic effect. Many members do not have access to a garden and are too frightened to travel to any public green spaces. Bringing them to the shed, allowing them to enjoy the sunshine, the bird song and other wildlife is a breath of fresh air that is having a positive effect on their physical and mental health. Bringing people to participate in community projects in the workshop fosters a sense of togetherness and giving something back to the community. It really is about building up the confidence and self-worth of people who have faced a series of hardships during this ongoing period of Covid-19.

In doing so they are helping to stop people from feeling totally alone, seeing that they are happy and have what they need. It's about the community know that there are people who care about them and care about their health and well-being."

Southall School are a secondary special educational school who have been delivering outdoor learning and forestry experience's over the past decade. A lot of what they do is on a minimum budget and relies on good deeds, volunteers and local authority (small) budgets.

David from Southall School let us know what they were hoping to do. "More recently the needs of our children have become extremely diverse so we have started to create our own school forestry area on site and are making it an important part of the curriculum. Expanding this curriculum as far as we can with onsite and offsite forestry lessons, Duke of Edinburgh and John Muir Award all to accommodate behavioural, autistic learning needs and physical disabilities pupils."

TAs a result they were looking to support the staff with the appropriate resources to aid the teaching and keep the pupils safe in all weather conditions. So we were delighted to add some support that would then enable them to expand on what they can deliver, as well as further the training opportunities to expand the teaching.

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