Not the three least well known of the seven dwarfs, but a mildly convoluted way of linking together the themes of our final project of 2012.
For the third year running now, our partners from the Akropolis Family Centre in Uherske Hradiste have sent us a small group of women eager to learn about their counterparts over here in the UK , and this year we split the project with some lovely people in Worcester.
Why Worcester? As George III said. Oh no, that was ‘Bugger Bognor’. But in this case it was because in Worcester they have a major Snoezelen project , and that’s something the Czechs wanted to learn about. So 6 of the group went up there. Now Snoezelen (pronounced SNOOZYLAND)(ish) is a Dutch idea which involves creating a controlled multisensory environment as a therapy for people with autism or developmental disabilities . So for 10 of the 14 days , Jane Roberts and her team of Snoezelanders sourced up a Worcester programme for them. Meanwhile, we took 4 of them down to Bridgwater. Then for the 2 weekends we put everyone together and decided to go to…well, Wales seemed about right.
|“Look out there’s a marathon coming..”|
Arriving late evening to Bristol airport and spending the first night in Cheddar, the whole group came with us to Bath and then to Cardiff where they spent the next night. The next morning it was the Cardiff Marathon. That should be good, I thought. I’ll just cross this road. Ah, here come’s the marathon now. I’ll just let them pass. So there’s the first lesson. If you see a marathon coming, cross the road quickly. 18,000 runners later I managed to cross the road. Up the Welsh valleys to Cyfarthfa Castle we had some Welsh cakes waiting for us and then it was off to Worcester to drop half the group at the Snoozy centre. The others came with us to Bridgwater and stayed with Kate, Inglis, Delilah and a variety of cats ,dogs and chickens at a relatively town centre location.
|Cllr Slocombe shows them a thing or two
During their stay in Sedgemoor we took them around a variety of Family Centres, pre school and nursery buildings and gave them a taste of how, where and whether social services actually works for us. At Sydenham Family centre they participated in a Parent led drop in session and at Victoria they discussed with the Homestart project about what help could be provided for young families. Out in the sticks they visited the Stowey Bears pre school centre and the Little Vikings Nursery in Watchet. Back in Bridgwater they took in the College nursery, nattered with the knit and knatter group at Hamp Holy Trinity Church and again with the elderly ladies at the sheltered housing project at Homecastle House. But it wasn’t all fun. They also met Cllr Gill Slocombe the Chair of Sedgemoor District Council and her vice chair Cllr Peter Downing who explained to them why Cllr Smedley was a good for nothing anarchist who ought to be shot. They were of course joking.
|a bit wierd…
Weekend 2 we picked up the Worcester people again and took everyone to North Wales. (Hence Snowdon). Staying at Betws Y Coed for a couple of nights they toured the Isle of Anglesey and Snowdonia scaling the worlds 387th highest mountain (by railway) and then visited the friendly Welsh market town of Caernarvon where a friendly Welsh local demanded we shut our minibus door in an empty car park to let other people park. On our way back to Worcester we stopped in at Shrewsbury, where our chum Jo Cox lives. Jo was on the original wagon train to Czechoslovakia back in 1992 and only 3 years ago took some Salopian youth workers with us to meet the Akropolitanians in UH and so was pleased to show this lot around her town. Especially good was the Boiler Room , on Hills lane-the towns first Steam Punk cafe. Well worth checking out.
But it wasn’t all high flying jetsetting. One night the group went to Nether Stowey and took part in a Czech evening eating goulash and watching the O’Byrne families Czech holiday videos. Another night it was Czech-English Quiz night – which everyone lost as the questions were so stupid. On a different occaision we took them to the Green Olive-as part of our ‘support west quay businesses’ agenda. And who could forget the jazz night at the Bridgwater Arts Centre..well, certainly no-one who ever heard the resident trombonist attempt to play the melody from ‘Girl From Ipanema’ in the style of George Chisholm.
The highlight of the Bridgwater groups sojourn was the visit to ‘People Can’ in Taunton, where they had a talk from the wonderful Elaine Di Campo and her team about the tremendous work they do in the community and spent time in the offices meeting some of the workers that provide floating support, advice and counselling for people who’s lives aren’t working out and need that bit of extra backup. Suitably inspired they declared Elaine the loveliest person they’d met – which was up against some tough competition. And that included Nigel, who took them to Beer (the fishing village) and Simon (who guided them to the top of Snowdon) (by sitting in the same train).
Two weeks later they were gone. Bags filled to bursting point having contributed to the local economy and minds filled with ideas , inspiration and idiocy. And who can decide what’s what deserves a European grant.
|Elaine and the gang at People Can|