Under the Essex sun
After a long and hot drive, service users and staff arrived in sunny Clacton for the annual service user holiday. As many of the holidaymakers hadn't met before boarding the van, the start of the journey was one of nerves and apprehension as people got to know each other but by the time the Essex coast was in sight, the minibus was blasting a selection of 80s dance classics over excited conversation.
A busy week was had by all involved and saw day trips to Clacton town by way of a two and a half mile hike along the seafront for the reward of fish and chips. Service users also enjoyed a day of mini golf and a couple of visits to a local pool for a swim, but for many, the highlight was sprinting fully-clothed into the sea. Even when faced with the challenge of a power cut, service users put away their mobile phones and spent the time talking to each other, getting to know each other better and sharing stories.
On the last night, the staff held an awards ceremony for the holidaymakers, celebrating the things that made each person unique during their time away. One service user won the 'Fireman Sam' award for both creating and then safely handling a surprise fire while cooking on the barbecue, while another collected the 'Gordon Ramsey' award for being the loudest, most animated, and most willing chef throughout the week.
Annette Davis, Community Home manager said, "for me the highlight is in coming home and seeing the effects on the service users who took part. Seeing them feeling valued, their improved mental health, the genuine friendships formed, and memories – other staff have said that service users have spent long phone calls to them or to friends, sharing their stories and about how good their trip was."
We would like to say a huge thank you to those who gave toward the holiday, and those at the recent Community Market Garden open day – to the service users who manned the cake stall and served drinks, and to the generous supporters who donated (in exchange for some home-made cakes). Without your generosity, we wouldn't be able to support the service users in having a much needed break from it all and the chance to reflect, build in confidence, and making lasting connection to others.