Six years ago, some of the Group's Isle of Wight customers founded the Monday Club. In the years since, the club has had a key role in several initiatives on the Island that benefit customers and non-customers with support needs, including the renowned Quarr Abbey gardening project.
In 2010/2011, council funding for day services across the Isle of Wight saw significant cuts. The result was a reduction in services and support staff for our customers on the Island, leaving residents of one scheme, 22 Argyll Street in Ryde, a home for customers with learning disabilities, at a loss for how to replace their previous daily activities.
Becky Lavers is the Senior Activity Co-Worker for 22 Argyll St. She explains:
The Monday Club was set up to give our residents something to look forward to in lieu of their previous day activities. The club would get together each Monday and talk about what was going on in their world, their personal stories, news events, things they wanted to learn, and so on.
The club grew to include customers outside 22 Argyll Street who were facing similar issues following cuts to day services. However, outside of Monday, our customers still needed something to do. And so we started the Quarr Abbey gardening project.
One of our managers from 22 Argyll Street at that time approached the Quarr Abbey monks about developing some disused land on the Abbey estate. The gardening group met twice a week to develop the plot. It was a mess and needed everything doing to it. They mapped out paths, built raised beds, weeded, the lot!
The gardening project has helped them feel part of the community and has given them a social network.
The Quarr Abbey gardening project benefits local residents with learning difficulties and other support needs. Run in partnership with Quarr Abbey and the Isle of Wight Council, it’s open to anyone from across the Island. Those who volunteer with the garden plant, grow and sell their own produce, and related goods they make, in the local Abbey shop.
The project offers a way for local residents to gain new skills and confidence, and last year it hosted HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex during a royal visit.
In addition to their work with Quarr Abbey, the Monday Club run a popular monthly social night in Ryde that includes a DJ, dance floor and raffle, and each month has a different theme.
The club is open to anyone living on the Island with a support need. The group is currently small in number, but actively engaged with an ongoing interest in learning new things.
I‘ve recently done some work with the club about fire safety after recent events in London. They like to visit places like the local police station, fire station and life boat station. We’ve had paramedics come in to talk with them about basic first aid. We like to do things in the community and are involved with Learning Disability Partnership Group who are a group of organisations, voluntary groups and local councils who work together to ‘better’ our community for adults with learning disabilities.
I feel that members of the Monday Club get a lot out of socially and that it’s important to give them different experiences and the chance to be involved in the community.