It's been a year like no other at Urban Saints Westbrook - here's a brief look back at 2021!
January: Locked down again
With a third national lockdown announced on 4th January 2021, Westbrook once again fell silent to the chatter and shouts of children and young people, allowing the birds and wildlife to reclaim their natural territory. The Westbrook Team took the opportunity to continue the work of developing the Bedrooms and Borders, completing four en-suite leaders’ bedrooms and redecorating parts of the Dunny. The borders were strengthened with new fencing, and other work was undertaken including field-draining, building an outdoor classroom area, creating some new paths and removing some stumps near the air raid shelter entrance.
May: A return to activities
On 12th May, government restrictions eased and the first Island school activity groups appeared back at the Centre. Since May, well over 500 young people have benefited from school activity days – an average of two parties a week during the summer - as they embraced the outdoors, developing skills in teamwork and resilience. The team also helped two Island primary schools with their Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision. In addition, the swimming pool has been used for lessons four times a week (not to mention the occasional scuba diving training!)
July onwards: Residentials are back
Residentials still seemed a long way off but finally on 12th July, the first residential group was able to come and stay, with Christchurch New Malden School the first back through the front doors. Urban Saints Camps Leaders worked tirelessly amid the changing restrictions and, with just five weeks to plan, were able to offer two Mini Camps lasting three nights each, in order for Westbrook Adventure and Challenge Camp to take place from 1st August. Leaders were overjoyed to be back at Westbrook running a face-to-face Camp.
The summer saw 19 different groups and churches come and stay, including hosting a wedding celebration and many of the Urban Saints Team during the summer holidays.
Special Educational Needs sessions
This autumn Westbrook have hosted an 8 year old boy for a weekly Special Educational Needs session. Stepping out of his everyday environment and experiencing the tranquility of being in the outdoors, building confidence with indoor crafts, board games, bushcraft skills and playing on our low ropes course, has dramatically transformed him.
His mum says, “Thank you so much for all you have done (for my son). I have not seen him so happy and eager to join in with someone, and he is never usually willing to tell me what he does but he comes back bursting with excitement. I appreciate your kindness and patience. You have made a massive difference to him in such a short space of time.”
Jo Baynham, Centre Manager, has now moved on from Westbrook, leaving the reins in the capable hands of Andy Treagus. Advertising for a new Centre Manager is underway. Helen Davison, Administrator, is retiring at the end of January. We wish them both well in their new endeavours.
The Team have worked extremely hard in a very difficult year and we are so grateful to them all – do keep them in your prayers.