Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

Didcot

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Love local with fresh food boxes

Liz Nicholls

Didcot

Love local! Fresh food delivery boxes so you can make restaurant-quality meals

Our hospitality industry has, of course, been brutally battered over the last 12 months. This is part of the reason we’re celebrating our food & drink heroes in our R&A Good Cheer Awards.

Crop To Kitchen is one of the many valiant businesses which has had to evolve to survive – and keep us well fed. Ordinarily, the team supply restaurants in London and the home counties – including Michelin-starred eateries and five-star hotels – from its Maidenhead base. These include iconic settings such as Cliveden House, the Hind’s Head and The Groucho Club.

MD Peter Codling says: “Like many, we have had to think on our feet. What was also important was that we helped the local farms and growers whose top produce was no longer needed by the trade. We wanted to avoid food waste and serve the community so they can enjoy great food at home.”

Their home delivery boxes, containing the finest ingredients, have won rave reviews. Customers can build their own order or choose a pre-selected box. As well as the best fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs, the Crop To Kitchen team also rose to the challenge in the first lockdown, sourcing items in short supply including fresh pasta. Foodies should also keep an eye on the website for new lines of produce, normally only supplied to the best restaurants, so that you can replicate the same level of excellence in your own meals.

The social media feed is filled with delicious recipe ideas. They offer free next-day delivery within a 10-mile radius, including Cookham, Bourne End, Burnham, Ascot, Slough, Windsor, Bray, Cookham Dean, Taplow, Bisham, Marlow, Henley and all the villages in between.

All orders are delivered in reusable and fully sanitised crates and plastic packaging is avoided when sourcing and delivering to fit the green ethos. The drivers pride themselves on meticulous presentation and comply with social distancing guidelines, using full PPE.

Crop To Kitchen also dreams big, with plans on the horizon including offering specific areas of land or poly tunnels for restaurants, once back on their feet, to grow their own bespoke produce. Peter is also going to rustle up some live-streaming nights featuring chef cook-alongs.

Get your box for Valentine’s Day – or to find out more, visit croptokitchen.co.uk.

We’ve teamed up to offer a box bundle to one lucky winner – watch this space for the competition which will go live at the start of March!

For some of our own recipe ideas, click here

Maymessy: Recipe for life

Karen Neville

Didcot

Social enterprise Maymessy is helping families learn valuable life skills.

Food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget, but help is at hand from a Wantage-based social enterprise.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm, West Challow, believes in giving marginalised groups and disadvantage young people better wellbeing through cookery classes and wellness activities.

It was launched in 2017 by Anna Richards who turned a disused cow shed into the cookery barn supporting young carers, young people in the care system, families struggling financially, those with special needs and refugee families.

Maymessy works with eight local charities and youth groups helping young people to understand the importance of teamwork, build their confidence and self esteem and enjoy time outside in the shared garden as well as giving them greater knowledge of healthy eating and wellbeing.

Maymessy at Garlands Farm

This year, it has branched out to support adults from charities such as Refugee Resource and Style Acre with those who visit working in the vegetable plot and getting to grips with the pots and pans before sitting down to tuck into a plate of their own yummy and nutritious food.

Maymessy can also offer ad hoc work experience, volunteering and mentorship to the young people who go there.

Anna said: “As a qualified teacher with nutritional accreditation and a mother of twin girls, I know how food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget or using a food bank.

“As a local community interest company, I wanted Maymessy to help these families by providing a safe and comfortable space to learn these essential life skills.”

And this year Maymessy has been supporting the NHS in Oxfordshire with weekly deliveries to around 100 Covid-19 special care staff.

Anna added: “At the end of lockdown, we also collaborated with Ray Collins Charitable Trust to provide care packages to the staff of the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital. It was there that we had the idea that we could partner to provide support to local families in Wantage – providing our cooking expertise to the families using the [Wantage Coronavirus] Support Group.”

The WCSG has been working closely with local families over the last seven months supplying much-needed shopping and over this time realised the difference these classes could make.

Anna Richards: Founder of Maymessy

Ray said: “Shopping and cooking on a tight budget is never easy and in some cases can lead to friction and tension in the home. So the Sustainable Wantage, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Coronavirus Support Group want to help out by organising cooking classes for parents and hopefully older children to learn new cookery skills together and how to plan and budget for meals.”

To find out more about the work of Maymessy visit www.maymessy.com

Read about the R&A Good Cheer Awards and nominate who has helped in your community.

The GREAT outdoors!

Round & About

Didcot

We’ve never appreciated being outside more than we do now and with more gradually opening up to us, let’s get out and enjoy it

It’s the time of year when we’re normally thinking about going on holiday and spending as much time as possible outside – and with more of us likely to opt for staycations and short breaks closer to home this year, where do you start?

Fingers crossed, campsites are preparing to reopen this month with social distancing measures and a limited number of places, some will reopen second fields while others will introduce measures such as a system including timed use of showers.

If you’re a camping virgin, The Camping and Caravanning Club is a great place to start with all you need and some helpful advice:

• Stay in the open air – there are many physical and well-being benefits of camping and caravanning thanks to spending time in the fresh air

• Stay local – there will be a campsite near you, there’s no need to travel far for a change of scene and the local economies will benefit too

• Stay comfortable – there will be social distancing measures in place when they’re able to re-open campsites

The Club’s Director General Sabina Voysey said: “We believe the great outdoors will never feel greater and we can’t wait for the day when we’re able to welcome people back to our campsites. By sharing our handy guides, top tips and online content we hope we can introduce even more people to the joys of camping and caravanning.”

TV presenter Julia Bradbury is president of The Camping and Caravanning Club and created The Outdoor Guide (TOG) website to share her love of all things outdoors.

She said: “Green spaces are incredibly important to me. And they don’t have to be big, wide open landscapes. Yes, I love the Peak District and the Lake District, and Dartmoor and I love exploring the wilds of Scotland, but green spaces, parks, gardens, even simple window boxes. These ‘little bits of green’ or smaller green environs are equally important.

“Growing something, for example, in a window box is a way to connect with nature. And that is something that we have evolved to do. And it’s an important part of our makeup. We know for example, that time spent in green spaces, whether that is parks or bigger landscapes, either of those, time spent in green spaces is good for us.”

For many time spent in outdoor spaces means enjoying a walk and while Julia won’t commit to a favourite she explained that was the reasoning behind TOG: “People have been asking me for years and years about my favourite walks or where I like to stay or the pub that I was at, or where I was when I had that pie and pint, or that little woodshop that I called into, or the blacksmith/carpenter I talked to…

“So we’ve put all of that information up on the website and there are hundreds and hundreds of really good walks up on there. It’s not fair for me to say a favourite walk because I just like being out there.

“And it depends where you live. Some people will never get to the other side of the country. They’ll explore what they’ve got on their doorstep and that’s absolutely fine as well.

“Of course, the Peak District would always have a special place in my heart as will the Lake District because that’s where I made my first TV walks – The Wainwright walks – filming in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, so those two places are special.”

Julia believes it’s just important for people to get out and enjoy it, especially now. She added: “A University of Exeter study of nearly 20,000 people in England last year revealed people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well being, than those who don’t visit nature at all.

“One hundred and twenty minutes a week is nothing but the benefits to all are enormous, quite simply nature and green spaces help to keep us healthy. Governments that don’t recognise this are being incredibly foolish – it’s almost like having a second health service… This study found the majority of nature visits took place within just two miles of people’s homes.”

There’s lots more information on Julia’s website The Outdoor Guide, www.theoutdoorguide.com

UK tourism industry site Visit Britain is developing a quality mark for tourism businesses, including campsites, in response to Covid-19. It aims to reassure visitors businesses are complying with government guidelines.

The National Trust is reopening some of its properties but with many restrictions still in place. Visitors can now walk in some of its open spaces locally – White Horse Hill at Uffington; Buscot and Coleshill Estate in Wiltshire; the Chilterns countryside; Ashdown, Lambourn; Bibury, Gloucestershire and Stonehenge landscape. Car parks have reopened at these sites, some with limited space on a first come first served basis.

Some sites have been able to reopen further with gardens, parklands, estates and car parks welcoming visitors. Booking is essential at all properties although the houses themselves will not be open. Those you can now visit locally include: Cliveden and Basildon Park in Berkshire; Stowe, Waddesdon and Hughendon, all in Buckinghamshire; Buscot Park and Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Visit the National Trust website for details
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect

A National Trust spokesperson said: “We knew that once we started a gradual opening of our gardens and parklands, tickets for our places would be very popular; particularly with such fine weather.

“We’ve made careful decisions about which gardens and parklands can open, and we have limited their capacity to ensure everyone can adhere to social distancing to maintain the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers, which remains our top priority.”

Historic Blenheim Palace in Woodstock has also reopened its formal gardens and walks for visitors to enjoy. Again booking for dates and times is essential as numbers are limited. The Palace has introduced a number of safety measures such as installing hand washing facilities and sanitisers, operating a cashless system and screens at kiosks. Visit www.blenheimpalace.com/ for all you need to know.

Walk around the beautiful gardens of Stonor Park near Henley which has welcomed visitors again and enjoy the offerings from street food vendors too. Pre-booked tickets are a must with timed entry only. The street food will also need to be booked in advance. For more information and to book visit www.stonor.com

You can also enjoy a walk around Windsor Great Park, observing the now customary restrictions and Savill Garden has reopened to friends and members as well with a further phased opening planned to welcome more people to appreciate the splendour of the gardens.

Make the most of the English outdoors and celebrate it as The Camping and Caravanning Club says on its website ‘the good times will never feel better’ and ‘the outside will never feel greater’.

• Share with us where you like to go. Which places are you longing to get back to? Get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures

Wallingford vehicle rally

Round & About

Didcot

The popular annual Wallingford Vehicle Rally & Parade has been cancelled this year but the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for a ‘mini lockdown parade’ on August 2nd.

They say: “We are currently in negotiations to hold a short driving tour around the area on Sunday 2nd August for all those purchased any ticket for this year’s event.

“We are currently working on a route that won’t cause disruption to the usual traffic and will contact everyone via email very soon with details.”

It will be free of charge, but they ask you make a small donation in the collection buckets on the day or via the crowd funder link that will be set up nearer the time so we can then share this with the local charitable causes who usually benefit and are struggling for funding during these trying times.

Organisers added: “Thank you for your patience, we are disappointed we are unable to hold the event this year but the health of participants, traders, staff and general public have to be our prime concern. Stay safe and we will be in touch with ticket holders this week and please keep an eye on our social media for updates for Sunday 2nd August 2020 mini lockdown parade.”

Info

All those who purchased tickets for the 2020 event can either request a refund (follow the link on your ticket confirmation) or your purchase will be valid for the 2021 event which will be held on Sunday, 9th May 2021. If they don’t hear from you, they will simply send you information and wrist bands in April for the event.

Share your views on climate change

Round & About

Didcot

Young people are being urged to help shape West Oxfordshire District Council’s response to the climate emergency.

Students, schools and youngsters from across the district are invited to express their views and ideas in a special online consultation at www.westoxon.gov.uk/environment/climate-action

As part of that WODC have arranged a competition which encourages them to get creative and submit their art to express how they feel about climate change and how their perfect, future world would look.

All entries will be considered whether working alone, with siblings or as a team of remotely-working friends. The cross-party Climate Action Working Group will be judging the entries and sharing with you all their favourites.

Post your videos – songs, raps, poems, dance, whatever grabs you – to describe what climate change means for you. Let them know what you’d like to see happen to make a change for the better and help protect the natural world.

Share your videos with everyone by posting them using this hashtag #climateactionwoxon.

If you love to draw, paint or take photographs, use the medium of art to describe your perfect, future world where we have come together and successfully tackled the issues of climate change.

What does your perfect world look like? Are we still driving cars? What do our buildings and homes look like? How do we heat and power them? What jobs are we doing? What technologies are we using? How are we living with nature? And what do our natural landscapes and pathways to school and work look like?

Your future world may be the whole planet or just your street. Release the artist in you and illustrate what you see.

Share your art and post it to: Your Views on Climate Action, West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney OX28 1NB or email

This consultation is open until June 16th.

Art from your armchair

Round & About

Didcot

 Local artists open up virtual exhibition for Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival

Artists looking forward to welcoming the public to their studios for Oxfordshire Artweeks are now doing so virtually until May 25th.

The 13 resident artists and associate members of Ayres House Studios, Wallingford, were looking forward to inviting visitors into the previously derelict building; throwing open their studio doors to exhibit both art work and studio space – now sadly impossible due to social restrictions.

In October 2019 the artists took over Ayres House on Station Road. The building was used as a rectory until the 1950s and had been empty for many years and was officially opened with a launch celebration in December.

Studio Manager, Emma Souter of Adumbration Arts said: “It’s such a lovely building with so much potential, I think it needs us as much as we need it.”

On show ‘virtually’ will be paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, upholstery, jewellery, photography, installations, artist’s books, performance and art restoration. The artists are from both academic and self-taught backgrounds, including those from high art, conceptual, fine art and applied crafts.

Daily content will be shared to provide a creative overview from the studios, highlighting what the artists have been doing before and during the coronavirus.

Among those helping out has been Becky Colwell who has used her textile skills to help make scrubs for the NHS and is looking forward to being able to teach sewing classes when the studios re open to the public.

Emma of Neoteric Dance Company has created a new dance film A Home in Isolation, documenting the experiences faced by so many at this time. Alongside this she is also supporting individuals who may be struggling emotionally and physical at this time, by offering virtual spaces to talk and process their experiences, seeing her transfer her Dance Movement Psychotherapy skills to a virtual platform.

During lockdown the studio is welcoming applications from artists who would like to join the studios and for those who would like to join as associate members. They are also seeking proposals for community and collaborative projects so they are ready for when restrictions are lifted. Once back they will re-open Monday Makers and the various courses, workshops and exhibitions which were suspended due to Covid19.

Until then why not visit Ayres House Studios online from the comfort of your homes throughout May.

During Artweeks there will be a chance to view works online via https://www.artweeks.org/festival/2020/ayres-house-studios and on the Studios social media pages https://www.facebook.com/ayreshousestudios and https://www.instagram.com/ayreshousestudios where new posts will be shared daily throughout the festival.

More info

For those interested in visiting Ayres House, signing up for a class or joining the studios after restrictions have eased, please email or call Adumbration Arts on 01865 819869.

Barry the pig

Round & About

Didcot

Barry the pig needs your help – his home is flooded and he can’t swim!

He lives with dogs, cats, sheep, alpacas, ponies, parrots and tortoises at the Berkshire branch of the National Animal Welfare Trust at Trindledown Farm, in Great Shefford, near Hungerford.

The ten-acre site is a rescue and rehoming centre specialising in the care of elderly animals and needs your help to stay open after being hit by flooding.

Barry hates water and the branch has launched a Just Giving campaign called Barry Can’t Swim with the aim of raising £5,000 to build ditches along the boundary to enable the flood water to drain away naturally into the flood alleviation stream further down in the village.

The centre is totally self-funded and receives no help from anywhere except its fundraising activities and relies on being open to the public for events as well as the income from the café and onsite charity shop.

Ellie Humphreys works for the charity and says: “We are flooded and on the verge of having to close the centre to the public until the water subsides.

“The rehoming of animals does not cover the cost of vets bills, accommodation or maintenance of the 20-year-old farm.

“Not only is this impacting on our funds, all of our field animals have been put on higher ground which is not ideal for elderly animals and their joints.”

And it’s far from ideal for Barry in particular. He lives with a sheep called Bjork who has special needs and was rejected by the other sheep, but now their area is becoming inaccessible.

Ellie adds: “The last time we flooded was 2014 where our fields were out of action for three months.

“Unfortunately we are in the Lambourn Valley so we receive the overflow of water from the higher ground which then runs through half our grazing land, our dog exercise areas and our car parking field.”

Not having the fields also means they cannot rotate the field animals to eat the grass so the centre is forced to buy hay and feed adding to the costs.

Help Barry

The Just Giving campaign aims to raise £5,000 to pay for the ditch work, to help click below

Garden Re-Leaf Day 2020

Round & About

Didcot

Plans are blooming for the ninth annual Garden Re-Leaf Day, which takes place on Friday, 13th March.

This year, Chilton Garden Centre will be the central hub for fundraising activity, as it hosts the fifth Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge.

Members of the gardening sector and hopefully local residents will trek across the Chiltern Hills to raise money for the children’s hospice garden charity, Greenfingers Charity.

Gardeners young and old are invited to take part in fundraising events – either a gentle 10-mile stroll or complete a more challenging 20-mile route through the Chiltern hills. There will also be a Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge for bike enthusiasts. With a 25km route through the Oxfordshire countryside entrants are invited to complete as many rotations around the course as they can throughout the day.

Garden Re-Leaf Day is to celebrate the start of the garden year with fundraising events to raise money for Greenfingers, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospices through the creation of magical gardens.

In total, 58 Greenfingers gardens have been built since the charity’s creation in 1998 with many being funded by monies from Garden Re-Leaf Day.

In 2017, a new Oxfordshire based garden was opened at Helen & Douglas House, enabling children who call this hospice ‘home’ to find a moment of calm away from the hustle and bustle of daily hospice life. The Kaleidoscope Garden, designed by Oxford garden designer Nicola Wakefield and built by local landscapers GreenArt Garden Design and landscaping, features a colourful and protected garden pavilion that is now being enjoyed by patients, their families, friends, carers and hard-working hospice staff.

Last year in 2019, the charity’s 20th anniversary, four sensory and therapeutic gardens were built in London, The Wirral, Sunderland and St Austell, offering children and families the perfect out door space in which to make memories.

More gardens are in the pipeline to be built this year and this is where Garden Re-Leaf Day comes into its own, raising muchneeded funds.

Linda Petronsdirector of fundraising & communications at Greenfingers said: “Each year, Garden Re-Leaf Day helps over 350 life-limited children to enjoy a quiet place of relaxation and contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of hospice life, something that is so incredibly important for them and their families. 

Being able to do offer this for seriously sick children and their families is only possible due to the fundraising activities that our supporters undertake.

Garden Re-Leaf Day offers a great opportunity to get involved – it’s just one day of the year where you can help make a difference. Whether you raise £10 or £10,000, every single penny counts. We hope that the people of Oxfordshire will get involved on March 13th!”

More info

To find out more about Garden Re-Leaf Day and the work that the Greenfingers charity undertakes visit