HAPPY NEW YEAR!
LIFE DURING LOCK DOWN AT HARE HILL HOUSE
With the most challenging of years having come to a close, it can be easy to focus on all the negative things that have happened, but I’m sure, if you stop and think, there have also been stacks of positives too – they’re just a little harder to find. The doors may be closed to visitors but life at HHH has not stopped. Whilst we have not been able to do as much as we may have liked we have still being making progress on bringing our dream to reality.
At the end of March we had to shut our doors due to the virus and lockdown. This meant we had to cancel all our bookings from groups who use the House for meetings and activities including our own Meet U, Blokes and the newly formed Chill and Chat groups. The cancelling of Meet Up and Blokes meant it could affect those people who were most likely to affected by the lockdown, the elderly, vulnerable and lonely so we had to quickly get our thinking caps on and develop new ways to help, so during the time the House has been locked up we have changed the way we deliver to Meet Up and Blokes.
Our volunteers started by making contact with our participants, over 50 of them, via visits and telephone calls, gathering information on what was needed; picking up prescriptions, delivering shopping, and simply someone to talk to. We quickly put together our first newsletter, providing information on which shops were open and when, who was doing deliveries and contact numbers.
We also included activities for everyone, quizzes, exercises, and puzzles. A monthly newsletter has gone out since, with relevant themes, May was our VE Day edition; July was Keep it Local; September was Heritage Week; November – Remembrance Day and December our Christmas edition. We also began a weekly post on our Facebook page, with a weekly quiz, celebrating birthdays and ensuring people know we and other organisations were available to help if they needed some extra support.
In October we secured some additional funding from Power to Change and the National Lottery to provide our participants with a monthly activity pack, something to keep them occupied as daylight got shorter and the potential problems of ongoing restrictions and further lockdowns began to affect everyone’s well being. Our first, a Puzzle Pack, went out in November and our Mosaic Coaster pack went out with our Christmas Goody Bag to all our participants and volunteers.
One of our participants established a Facebook Room in November and each week a number of our members and volunteers join the Room to chat and catch up with local news and gossip, it is something to look forward to each week and a great way of keeping in touch with one another.
For the Blokes group we firstly established a weekly Facebook post to help keep our participants informed about how they could access support and help. We also included a weekly quiz and ensured that the messages about washing hands, social distancing and the varying rules and regulations were available. Peter Reed also quickly established a Facebook Room which occurs weekly and gradually numbers have built up and now each week between 10 and 15 Blokes get together for a chin wag and catch up and keep in touch with one another. With all these new, IT savvy, silver surfers will life ever be the same again!
Children’s Christmas Fair.
Did you see our alternative to our Children’s Christmas Fair? Unable to open the House for our popular annual event, special guests Elf, Mother Christmas and Father Christmas all dropped by and read a selection of Christmas stories for our younger community. They are available on our Facebook Page – follow the links below
Huge thanks to Iain, Carol and Ben Bowden for putting the films together and of course to all our special guests for making the time to visit and be filmed.
The lockdown did not only affect the House but also the tenants who run their businesses from Hare Hill House. At the earliest opportunity we made the House Covid safe, changing our cleaning regime, restricting access, installing hand sanitizers and were able to welcome them back to their offices/studios. We have put up a QR code so that it can be scanned whenever anyone enters the House.
It has not all been bad news. We have used the opportunity of the house being closed to completely strip the ladies toilets. They now have all new piping and new cubicles in place. They just need the new sinks and toilets fitting and tiling on the walls and floors. Ladies you will not recognise them. All the men out there, you haven’t been forgotten and progress has been made on upgrading the men’s toilets too. All this has been done whilst abiding to the rules and regulations in place. Getting all the paper work in place was a minefield and a huge task in itself and a big thanks goes to Nick for doing this.
Keeping the House running whilst in lockdown has not been the easiest of tasks but the Committee are now holding their meetings on Zoom, which was not without its initial problems for the least IT skilled of us.
We have had some success in securing some additional funding to support us going forward, however it was the funds raised at previous events that has helped us survive, thank you to each and every one of you who has supported us in the past by volunteering, attending events, baking cakes etc, without your help who knows what would have happened to the House in these strange and worrying times. We hope to welcome you all back to the House soon and hope that you will continue to support us. We are working on a programme of events for when we are allowed to open, but in the meantime watch this space for dates and times of our virtual events and news updates.
Thank you and keep safe
best wishes for 2021
from all the team at Hare Hill House