Partnerships, colaborations and Friends.

We have just completed some dementia friendly, croquet sessions at The Red Shed. Our participants were given the opportunity to get together, get active and learn something new. It was great fun and such a boost to everyone’s wellbeing.

The initiative was made possible through our partnership with Active Local – part of Herts Sports Partnership and the generous time of John Noble from the Letchworth Croquet Club. Croquet is a garden sport and we found it to be inclusive and adaptable to peoples abilities – it’s now firmly on the list of activities we can provide at The Red Shed accessible garden.

Part of the success of The Red Shed has been the partnerships and collaborations. We work with Stevenage Borough Council, the Irish Network, AgeUK, Stevenage Rotary, Carers in Herts, local community organisations, Open Art Box, Herts Dementia Network, the local Social Prescribing Team, the Universities of Hertfordshire and Essex…….the list goes on….and the list is varied and diverse.

The last 18 months or so have been challenging for a small organisation like ours and we have come to value our network of contacts and the amazing results that working together can achieve. Not just collaborators and partners but many have become friends of The Red Shed and we truly believe that we can build a more sustainable future with these relationships as a foundation…..oh and a highly trained, keen and competitive croquet team!!

Let’s do Lunch!

Our first event in 2021 – a perfect afternoon of lunch, sunshine and friends.

The most recent lockdown has been lifted and we were finally able to get together. With sunshine, sandwiches and plenty of anti-bac – we were able to enjoy a lovely opportunity for all our Garden Club participants to meet. New friends were made and old friends well met. It was a real antidote to the difficult times everyone has been through in the last year or so.

Everyone’s wellbeing has been affected during the pandemic and many of those who are living with dementia have experienced a decline in both mental and physical health. A fun social event is a great mood lifter – we had lots of requests for more of the same, so fingers crossed for a summer of sunshine….we’re going to be busy!

Caring for carers….

Who carers for Carers – well The Red Shed does. At least for a couple of hours, once a month. Which is a drop in the ocean when you consider the amount of time and support they give to those they care for….but it’s a good start.

From the outset The Red Shed Project has recognised the needs of carers and while they are included in all our Garden Clubs it’s great to be able to offer something just for them.

Following on from our Craft for Carers in August 2019 (check out our blog on 24 July 2019) we have received further funding from Stevenage Community Trust and have now launched our Grow and Care group for Tuesday mornings. It’s a place for carers to meet, chat and share, as well as get involved with some gardening and garden crafts. It’s a safe space where having a moan and getting things off your chest is just as accepted as having a good laugh. Already, participants are sharing ideas and contacts – the value of peer support in incalculable.

We have already nearly reached capacity and it’s not surprising as most carers are really in need of some ‘me time’. Working together is a really good way to get people to talk. It’s also good for your mental wellbeing to be engaged with activities that are meaningful and fun. The whole experience of being in our garden is therapeutic and it’s wonderful to see people leaving a session with a bigger smile and a lighter step.

First week we made up some Kokadoma or Japanese hanging gardens. We have lots more activity plans up our sleeves, including being involved in the design of our garden extension – that will keep everyone busy and eventually an extra space to be still, re-group and feel refreshed.

Beating the Lockdown Blues

It has been such a pleasure to re-open The Red Shed garden gates and dust off the ‘lockdown blues’. Everyone has returned safe and well and we have gained lots of new participants too.

Being outside again, joining in the activities and being together all had immediate and obvious positive effects on our wellbeing.

The safe and supportive environment was a huge help towards getting over the concerns about being outside of again after such a long time.

Now we have a lot of seed to sow and garden to prepare for the year ahead. It’s wonderful to be working together and looking forward to something lovely.

an exciting relaunch

This time last year we were launching our garden club for people who are diagnosed with dementia when they are younger than 65. COVID put a bit of a dampener on our efforts but we have funding in place and the government roadmap allows us to get back together from April – so it seems like a good time for a relaunch.

A dementia diagnosis is difficult to receive at any age and everyone has very individual responses and needs at this time. When you are younger you may still be working, have children at home and dependent on you and it is possibly even more difficult for your friends and family to understand what you are going through.

Our garden club will provide a supportive and understanding space to help people adjust to their changing situation.

Having an Opinion

We are really pleased to have been invited to join in a research project with The University of Hertfordshire.

The Stevenage Dementia Involvement Group aims to provide opportunities for people with experience of dementia to influence dementia research and the planning of new services in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

The group discussions not only supply the researchers with valuable feedback but The Red Shed is also taking notes so that any ideas can be used to help us to build our service and meet the needs of the people we are working with.

Living with the effects of dementia at home can be isolating. The Red Shed Project try to combat this where ever possible. Being a part of Dementia Involvement group has been a great way of encouraging social engagement – as one of our participants told us…….’I am so pleased at being given the opportunity to be involved with the group and know that my thoughts and feelings are being listened to, and hopeful that this may lead to positive change’.


Keeping busy, staying connected

Although our dementia garden is closed due to COVID restrictions, we are still delivering activities and keeping in touch with our regular participants at home. It’s really important to stay connected as feelings of isolation are never far away in these difficult times. Our participants are still able to feel the benefits of gardening and getting creative, it’s especially important as the seeds that they are sowing will make sure that our dementia garden is blooming abundant in the summer.

Not just keeping busy but being purposeful is a great way to maintain wellbeing.

Deck the Doors with boughs of Holly

There was no Christmas Party for The Red Shed this year, with COVID restrictions still in place. But we were able to get into the Christmas mood by making some beautiful festive wreaths and table decorations for our homes. It’s been a tough year for The Red Shed and all our participants, so it was good to end on a high note.
It was also the first time we were able to work under our new Gazebo. It has clear sides to let in lots of light and allows us to still see the garden. There are just three sides to allow good airflow and the roof helps keep the damp and cold at bay. It’s a great new facility – particularly as a sheltered space for those of us who do more seated gardening. The Gazebo was an idea to help us increase our workspace under COVID guidelines, but it’s clear to see that this particular COVID led decision is going to be an asset in The Red Shed garden for years to come – a perfect Christmas present!!

Creating, learning and getting together – just what we all need……….

This week we ran several craft workshops – in the warm and dry thanks to our neighbours St Josephs who lent us their hall. The workshops were a chance to learn something new. We used willow to make lanterns, carved happy pumpkins and were introduced to Air Plants and making them into fabulous and unusual indoor gardens.

At The Red Shed we continually try to encourage people to try something different. The is a great sense of achievement in creating wonderful things and then taking them home to ‘show off’ to family and friends.

Pat was able to carve pumpkins at home with her grand-daughter, Viv was so please she had created a little garden that made her think of being ‘away somewhere nice’ and Tim felt good to be able to use his construction skills to build a lantern – with great accuracy!

These are the last of our Lets Get Going! workshops and we have been able to encourage over 50 people to get out and get going again after the first COVID lockdown. Hopefully we have given people some positive feelings that will help them through the next lockdown – looking forward to meeting again in December………..

Happy Birthday The Red Shed!

Its two years since The Red Shed Project was first registered and we are so pleased and a little amazed by what has been achieved. We were really lucky this week to have a visit from a professional photographer – Stephanie Belton. She came to the project with some other visitors from Herts Community Foundation – one of our major funders, to take a look around and take these wonderful pictures. They make a wonderful record of the project aged 2!!