Root and Branch has been awarded grant funding from the Lloyds Bank Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund. Lloyds bank and the lottery fund work together to support small and medium sized charities to build capacity. The award of £73,000 over 3 years funds salaries and extends our service to include access to an employment coach. An employment coach provides focussed support for our key workers and service users to facilitate return to appropriate; employment, education, sport or participation in other clubs and societies beyond Root and Branch. This is a very positive step towards our aim of providing activities that promote recovery for people who experience mental health difficulties.
One of our wood working volunteers and health and safety officer has been busy this month collaborating with the Screwfix foundation. A donation of £4,320 was gratefully recieved for upgrades to the green woodworking area. In addition the Highworth Lions complimented this with a £1,246 grant for green woodworking tools. Woodworking is a core activity enjoyed by many of our service users. Meanwhile following successful completion of his Health and Safety level 2, fire marshal & risk assessor training he has been very active, ensuring Root and Branch remains a safe environment for all.
This month our centre manager attended a celebration to mark our partnership with Co-op over the past year. Root and Branch gained not only from funding but also through increased awareness and support, building relationships with the Co-op community locally.
Meanwhile our Garden Supervisor and service users have been busy in the poly tunnel. The Spring Plant Sale was well attended, raising a little under £2,000. Root and Branch thanks all those who made the day so successful, and hope to see you next year. The hard work continues planting tomatoes into the beds and sowing radish, rocket, courgette and peppers as you will see in the pictures below.
Spring is blooming in the R&B garden, the gardeners have been busy preparing for the Spring Plant Sale on the 7th May. Our first peas are growing, and we have tomatoes, courgettes, cabbages and aubergine well on their way. Already, we have started to enjoy the fruits of the poly tunnel for lunch in the R&B kitchen... Salad with nasturtium flowers, radish, lettuce and parsley for the pea and parsley soup.
Using our newly renovated kiln, a 6 week ceramics course has started. Each week covers a different technique, starting with a thumb pot. We then cover, coil pots and slab pots finishing with slump moulds and a review, weekly classes to follow. The work will be left to dry for a number of weeks, then fired, glazed, and fired again. Below is one of the first pots in progress, made by one of our service users. with more examples in the collage above. The craft room and straw bale floors have had a fresh lick of paint following building works, thanks to our volunteers.
We have recently built a fantastic straw bale building at the bottom of the garden creating a lovely therapeutic space for recovery planning and employment coaching. In addition the new facility will be used for additional small group work such as meditation and pilates.
This project has been generously funded by The Vale of the White Horse, Nationwide building society and the Co-op. Corporate volunteers from Nationwide and Vodafone dedicated team days to help finish the construction.
July 25th, the MP for Swindon North, Highworth and Blunsden, Mr Justin Tomlinson, attended Root and Branch. He visited each of the activity centres; Forge, Woodworking, Pottery, Kitchen, Craft room, Straw bale house, Gardens and Poly tunnel. He expressed surprise at the range of therapeutic activities on offer and chatted to many of our service users, staff and volunteers. Connections with several large companies within Swindon who want to support community projects with work teams were discussed, Root and Branch will follow up.
A most successful visit for both parties, Justin promised to join us with his partner at our next sale day, to buy some of our cow patio planters, plants, wooden toys and forge made products. Although it was clear that his interest lay, in the tea and cake stall and maybe several pots of our R & B Jams.
A perfect biscuit firing. The image below captures the Root and Branch kiln being opened for the first time with peoples work inside. It went well with no failures. Next step decoration...
Root and Branch went on the road recently with an enjoyable visit to the Fresh Air Sculpture Exhibition at Quenington.
A team from Root and Branch including volunteers and service users travelled to the Shrivenham Defence Academy to collect three large trailer loads of wooden logs. Once split down this wood will fuel the two log burning stoves for the entire winter period.
Several slices of large tree trunks will make excellent rustic table tops and stool seat pads once prepared and constructed by our green woodworking service users, We will be able to put them up for sale at forthcoming events.