TWIG – giving international support to The Red Shed

This month we have had the privilage of being nominated as a Charity for the year for Toulouse Womens International Group aka TWIG.

Toulouse Women’s International Group (TWIG) aims to provide a diverse range of social, cultural, and sporting activities for its members of women living in and around Toulouse. They run several regular activities from Gardening to Creative Writing and through these groups foster friendships and support for members.

They raise money – particularly at their annual Christmas Fair – and donate to 3 different Charities each year. The Charities can be based in France or the UK.

Dementia affects people world wide and France has a similar statistics to the UK. During our presentation at the TWIG AGM, many hands were raised when the question was asked – ‘how many of you know someone who has dementia?’. Having lived experience of the disease was a major factor for the amount of votes The Red Shed received. Our Garden Clubs and Carers Cafe are always recognised as valuable servcies but it was also our commitment to research that spoke to some of the members. One person told us that hearing about the research meant that work was being done that may have positive effects in the future as well as our day to day provision.

So – The Red Shed has gone international! What an exciting connection to make!

Just as a footnote – we were nominated by a family member of one of our team. They live in Toulouse and are a member of TWIG. The chance for our CEO to present in person at the AGM was fitted into a weekend trip to catchup with family and relax in some French Spring sunshine!

Including refugees and asylum seekers in our volunteering community

We have been very lucky at The Red Shed to include an asylum seeker in our volunteer team. Maha came from Sudan where she was a teacher. She travelled to the UK and while she was waiting for her application for residency, she wanted to use her time and skills to help the local community.

Her time at The Red Shed has been interesting and valuable for us all. Carrying out her role as a volunteer was easy but going through the process of getting a DBS check was much more complex. Our volunteer co-ordinator took on the issue and worked with another volunteer from Garden House Hospice to produce a really useful document on getting through the knotty issues the system throws up.

We have shared this tool with the North Herts Centre for Volunteers and hope that it will help other organisations to feel more confident about using the amazing resource that asylum seekers and refugees can offer.

If you want to take a look, use the following link……


January is a quiet time in the garden but it is a time of planning and looking to the future –

We have made a list of events we would like to run this year, including a Quiz Night, Open Gardens, Plant Sale and Summer Picnic

We have made new plans for our garden – paint our storage shed, create a tea pot tree (who wouldn’t!!), move our herb bed and grow the biggest pumpkins yet!!

We will continue to provide our 4 Garden Clubs benefiting as many people as we can who’s lives are affected by dementia. Our Carer’s Cafe, Dementia Involvement Group and our Friendship group will all carry on and develope as we go.

We also are planning to look for a 2nd garden – some in Hertfordshire we hope, employ a new Project Manager and……well that is all probably enough for one year.

How exciting!

We’d better get to work…………

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time!!

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Through December we have run Craft goups for Red Shedders, their families and our Friends at the Irish Network. We also had a get together for our volunteer team to say a BIG thankyou for their hard work commitment and support this year.

Then we finished the year with our Christmas party! Always a great way to celebrate what we have all acheived this year and look forward to what we will get up to next year!



Dementia Friendly Stevenage

This year we have been having a great time working with the Stevenage Mayor as one of her chosen charities. We have been raising money, raising our profile along with that of all the dementia services in the town…but most excitingly of all we have played a big part in helping the town to get it’s Dementia Friendly accreditation from the Alzheimers Society. This is a great acololade and highlights how Stevenage is embracing the needs of those who are affected by Dementia.

We were really proud to have a team from The Red Shed to join the Mayor and celebrate the acheivement.

Back row left to right – Tim, who lives with dementia, Kayleigh our administrator and Ian, one of our Trustees

Front row left to right – Ann, member of our research group and Tim’s wife and carer , Norma one of the original Red Shedders! Myla the Mayor and Maha, one of our amazing volunteers.

Introducing our newest member of staff…….

In a world often consumed by negative news and headlines it has been a breath of fresh air
for me to stumble across The Red Shed; a haven of possibility and warmth nestled within
our local community. The Red Shed was a place, until recently, I didn’t know existed, but
upon discovering this charity through a good friend, and seeing they were recruiting… to
me, this was meant to be – I had to get in on the action!

Hi, my name is Kayleigh and I am The Red Shed’s new administrator. Stepping into this new
role has been nothing short of a wonderful journey; the moment I walked through that big
red gate I was immediately greeted with a tapestry of welcoming smiles, a feeling of
genuine warmth all around the garden and right away I could feel a sense of belonging.
It hasn’t taken me long to discover that The Red Shed isn’t your average organisation, it’s
instead a community; a family bonded together by a shared commitment of kindness and
support. Everything we do here, is done “The Red Shed Way” and backed by the dedication
of individuals who help fuel this mission – the staff, the volunteers, the gardeners, and their
As my journey begins at The Red Shed, I already feel a great sense of pride. The energy and
passion that surrounds the garden has proven very contagious; discovering so many joyful
stories and acts of kindness that are woven into the fabric of this charity. My eagerness to
dive in and contribute has been met with open arms and I’m really looking forward to
getting stuck in with helping The Red Shed continue to blossom, to touch more lives, and to
spread more joy throughout our local community.

Young Volunteers

This month we were really pleased to work with the Family Volunteering Club who encourage children under 5 to volunteer. A group of young volunteers and their Mums came to The Red Shed and helped with a few tasks around our garden.

They were very good at picking up all the twigs and small branches from our woodland path. This is a great help as it makes it a safe path for people in wheelchairs or using walking aids. It was a lovely morning and some of our participants came along to join the fun.

It’s clearly never to early to start helping others, so well done to the Family Volunteering Club for setting up such a unique and wonderful project.

Better Together………

We are really pleased to team up with Hertswise to grow our Carers Cafe and build on the service we offer. We launch our new look Cafe on 1st August. We will continue to meet once a month and provide support, respite and information to anyone who is caring for someone with dementia. Many of our regulars have been carering for some time and have lots of tips to pass on as well as the understanding of a lived experience to share.

When circumstances change and those who are cared for go into a home or sady die, we continue to welcome the carer for as long as they need to come along.

Hertswise are contracted by Herts County Council to provide dementia services countywide. They are a brilliant organisation and we are looking forward to this team effort being a great success!


Building on the success of our open days last year, we decided to just have the one event and invite everyone we knew! The Mayor opened for us and we hosted The High Sheriff, several local councillors, representatives from funders, partners and other dementia services. Our volunteers, staff, trustees and participants were also there and brought along family and friends to show them what we get up to at The Red Shed.

One of the highlights of the was also an inspirational talk from Sue Stewart Smith – author of The Well Gardened Mind. She talked about the value of gardening for wellbeing and of how beneficial to everyone, getting out in the garden can be.

There was a garden tour, designed to highlight what makes our garden both accessible and dementia friendly as well as showcasing the work our Garden Clubs do. There was also lots of information about The Red Shed along with a raffle, refreshments and an oppotunity to get involved in a living art activity. All in all it was a huge success and a real celebration of the work and the community that is The Red Shed.

The Mayor and her consort enjoyed exploring the site
The High Sheriff, in full regalia met with The Red Shed team.
There was lots of infomation
Sue Stewart Smith gave an inspirational talk
An interactive, living art project involved
everyone who came along
We all created a ‘snapshot’ of our favourite things from the garden that day…
Lots of homemade cakes and fruit punch were available.

Communities Supporting Communities – it’s a real thing!

How wonderful to have received so much support from other local community organisations. This month we have been chosen as the Charity of the Year for Stevenage Grange Rotary, Fairview Road Residents Association and the new Mayor of Stevenage. Add to this Lessiters (the local chocolate factory…..this must count as a part of the chocoholic community!!!) and we have the backing of some fantastic people.

We have also received amazing support from individuals such as Rebecca Reeve, who completed a 1/2 Iron Man Challenge and raised £2205.38 – an incredible sum! Our CEO went to watch the end of the challenge and was blown away by the acheivment.

If you have been reading our blog you will understand how vital financial support is for us – so we really appreciate the time and work that others are willing to give to raise funds for The Red Shed, particularly when its individuals and small groups just like us. If you would like to join our supporters we have a donation button on our home page but embracing technology we love our QR code below, which will take you direct to our Local Giving page!