Durham customers and staff have been having success with their group activities for some time now. Support Worker, Deb, who leads the groups, puts this down to the fact that the customers co-produce the activities program on a three monthly basis. She shares with us the range of activities that customers enjoy and how the team work to build engagement from all customers, including those who are harder to reach:

The final session of our last three month program found customers attending a volunteer day with the Countryside Rangers at a local country park.  The main task was to clear a section of pathway that had become so overgrown the public had stopped using it. The park was once a coal mine and coal storage depot and a junction of three railway lines. It has been transformed to a popular picnic and walking, cycling and horse-riding area. The site is also important for wildlife and has a variety of habitats that support roe deer and tawny owls. The customers learnt new skills from the Rangers ranging from using hand tools to identifying trees and nuts, some customers harvested hazel nuts for the first time and received instruction on how to crack them open and enjoy this free natural fare! As part of the event customers learnt how caring for the environment by managing habitats can be enjoyable, satisfying and productive, along with being healthy for body and mind.


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The following week customers co-produced the next three month plan of activities. Customers looked at the previous 3 month plan, picked activities they wanted to carry forward and suggested new ones they’d like incorporated.

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Suggestions included an organised bike ride via the bike4life service, a visit to a museum, first aid certification and talent sharing. During the co-production session customers suggested ways of increasing the numbers attending the groups at Durham, ideas included part funding bus fares. Customers shared their own skills and ideas with others present, including matchstick model making and magic card tricks. The new three month plan will be available shortly and will be sent out to all Durham customers encouraging them to attend future sessions.
The first outing from the new group plan was a visit to a local museum. We enjoyed a leisurely walk up the river and through the university grounds passing the magnificent cathedral on the way. The Oriental Museum is home to a huge range of artworks and archaeological artefacts from the great cultures of northern Africa and Asia. Almost 30,000 objects, ranging in date from prehistory to the present day are housed in the museum’s galleries and stores. One customer took photographs which will be used in a display in the group on different cultures.

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Although we do have many customers who will join in group activities, we have found that many of our female customers would not attend group activities. Over the last few months Foundation Durham have held ‘Women Only’ events as part of a pilot scheme run in conjunction with the Durham Police Integrated Offender Management. Women who have been engaging well in support and have shown motivation to change were invited to attend the sessions. In the final session, the women learnt how to make cards and were treated to a small gift of a journal and pen.

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During the session a health trainer was present to advise them on the service available to them free of charge either on a 1-1 basis or by attending a local health group. To help ease any financial worries the women were able to select food to take away with them provided by Tesco fare share. While they made cards they took part in answering quiz questions on personal safety and how to keep themselves safe whilst they are in the home, on a night out or traveling alone. One lady said she found the session therapeutic as she had felt low recently. The police and Foundation are hoping the women’s events can continue subject to funding and the next session has been provisionally booked in for the 31st October when we are hoping to be carving pumpkins and making Halloween snacks.