It’s been a real joy to see the doors of Westbrook, our residential Centre on the Isle of Wight, opening again. We’ve had the joy of hosting summer residentials as well as regular weekends for youth groups, local schools and churches. But you might be wondering what happens during the week? Is this a time for the Team to put their feet up? By no means…
Westbrook has always been a blessing to those who live on the Isle of Wight, as well as those who jump on the Friday evening ferry. Our swimming pool is used for lessons four times a week (not to mention the occasional scuba diving training!). Through the summer holidays we hosted an average of two school parties each week who came for activities, as well as helping local schools with Activity Days and, in particular, two Island primary schools with their Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision.
We have previously offered extra-curricular opportunities to young people who have been excluded from school. Small numbers of children would visit twice a week and help us dig the compost heap, plant bulbs, and do some hedgerow work etc.
One lad who really appreciates his weekly SEN sessions at Westbrook is Finn*, age 8. Finn was being taught on his own in a 1:1 environment at primary school but has now progressed to being taught in a group of six. Once a week he steps out of his everyday environment and experiences the tranquillity of being in the natural outdoors, building confidence with indoor crafts, board games, bushcraft skills and playing on our low ropes course.
Finn’s mum says, “Thank you so much for all you have done for Finn. 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.”
Since lockdown, well over 500 young people have benefited from school activity days as they embrace the outdoors, developing skills in teamwork and resilience. Seeing them take time to put down their tech, slow down and take in the joy of God’s kingdom in the Westbrook woodland is immensely satisfying.
It continues to be a great privilege to find myself in a position to be able both to cook for the children, young people and Christian groups whilst, at the same time, using my God-given
strengths delivering fun and faith-filled bushcraft sessions in my own inimitable style. Here’s to much more of the same in 2022!
Graham Hall aka ‘GMan’
Westbrook Duty Manager, Second Chef, SENCo-ordinator, Bushcraft Tutor, Social Media Co-ordinator etc etc!
Find out more about booking Westbrook for your own group’s adventure at www.urbansaints.org/westbrook
Plus, read more about what happened at Westbrook throughout 2021, a year like no other, here.