Beccy Melling is a Senior Support Worker with the Big Wig team a home to three young men with autism and learning disabilities in Holywell Bay, near Newquay.
With such active residents, the Bigwig team had to be well prepared for lock down, brainstorming activity ideas in advance which were designed to entertain and meet complex sensory needs. Team members advertised online in local community groups for donations of seeds, pots and compost to add to some herb plants that had been purchased, to start a gardening project. This was well supported and we were overwhelmed with the generosity of the local community who donated lots of seeds, pots, an apple tree, compost and gardening tools. Everyone painted plant pots and planted herbs, tomatoes, sunflowers, an apple tree and other flowers and vegetables. We have been taking it in turns to water and care for the plants since.
With all the beautiful weather, the garden became a real focus of activity, with the residents helping to upgrade the chicken coop and chicken run and stain the fences and swing.
The Bigwig team purchased a selection of garden games including an oversized connect four and a beanbag toss and one team member brought in all the equipment required to create our very own assault course!
We had our very own Bigwig festival, putting up tents, having music, paddling pool and BBQ in the back garden and camping out overnight, complete with hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows!
Everyone at Bigwig loves music and have enjoyed regular in house discos and Makaton “sing and sign” sessions, where we all sign along with Makaton music videos together and dance to the music.
One individual we support is a member of Drama Express and has managed to keep in touch with all of his drama friends with the use of online drama workshops using Zoom, enabling him to socialise and learn some new dance moves!
We are very lucky at Bigwig to be in such a stunning location, right next to sand dunes and a beautiful beach. This has provided some spectacular views for us and the opportunity for a quick paddle while wandering.
One individual was due to be climbing Scafell Pike in April, the second of the three peaks challenge after climbing Snowdon last year. So to keep his fitness levels up, we have been walking 8 miles to Perranporth and back several times a week, along with walks to nearby Polly Joke and Crantock Beach. One of our team members has been dazzling everyone with his circus skills, encouraging people to juggle, use the ribbon and play parachute games which have been great fun!
We have also had some fun in the kitchen, baking cakes, cookies and some ‘proper job’ Cornish pasties, along with a Bigwig pie.
One of the people we support recently celebrated his birthday. The usual party was out of the question and instead of seeing his family he used Skype and had a half hour chat via the internet. He was thrilled with his birthday present from them; a tandem! Perfect for lockdown, he has been going out on bike rides in the local area. This is a massive achievement for him. Only a couple of years ago he couldn’t ride a bike at all. Just look at him go now!
So while everyone at Bigwig might not be able to swim, kayak, climb mountains, attend their work placements and jobs, eat out, or go to the shops as they would normally do. Everyone has been keeping very busy and having lots of fun!
Beccy Melling (left) with manager Hannah Rundle picking up The Workforce Development Employer Award for Green Light at the CAHSC Ceremony in September 2019