The October saw us embark on our annual holiday, a staple of the PIP calendar. Our student’s excitement for the trip had been building as early as last November and since summer went into overdrive! Our destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Activities Centre which is located in Manor Farm Country Park in Hampshire.
The centre offers day services, activity sessions and holidays for people of all ages with additional needs such as learning disability, autism, physical disability and sensory impairment, and was a welcome, beautiful, fun and tremendously well-equipped home away from home for us.
Our trip started at 10am on Monday as we piled into a minibus! We arrived without a hitch and settled in to our cosy log cabins for the evening, preparing for the gruelling activity filled days ahead.
Day 2 had us undertaking various team building exercises under the canopy of our forest home and was a great opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our wonderful activity leader Phil who we had met during our holiday last year.
After a morning of building go karts and balancing hoops we went out on to the water for canoeing and motorboating down the River Hamble.
On Day 3 we did archery in the morning followed by a monster of an obstacle course where we had to negotiate rope swings, see-saws and a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Daryl was particularly pleased with his efforts on the tyres!
We capped off the day with a go on the zip wire which required great teamwork and support from the students to help each other back up to the launch podium after each swing. Below you can see George and Waiel helping Gemma back after her go.
Onto day 4 where we went a beautiful walk through the Hampshire countryside and up to Manor Farm where the students had the opportunity to feed the animals and milk the cows. The students loved the chance to get up close with the farm animals and gave us a great opportunity to practice our makaton signing.
Which brings us on to Friday and our final day on holiday. After an awards ceremony where the students were celebrated for their hard work, enthusiasm and support for each other, it was time to travel back to PIP and home for some much needed rest!
The holiday is an important opportunity for people with learning disabilities to get a break from the city (and their family) and interact with each other in a different setting. It not only engages them in new and exciting activities but it gives them the opportunity to practice the other skills they learn at PIP, like cooking and socialising. For families, the PIP holiday has a real impact too, giving time to rest or catch up on other activities or even spend time with other members of the family, that may need some quality time.
PIP's word of the month throughout June and July was undoubtedly 'partnership'. We are continually amazed by the brilliant support we recieve from organisations and individuals, and this summer has been as busy as ever. We have been raising money with MyGravity through their 'Get To Gie' social media campaign; signing up new PIP volunteers at John Lewis Oxford Street; working on our strategic plan with British Land, and learning about interview etiqutte with L'Oreal.
We have embraced the summer with our annual Leisure Programme of activities. Our students have been getting activie swimming, dancng an dbowling, and have been out and about around London at the Imperial War Museum, Transport Museum and even the Harry Potter Studios. PIP students work hard all year building their independence and life skills, so the leisure programme is a well-earned break, while at the same time a chance for PIP to promote the importance of sports and commnity activities for aduts with learning disabilities.
PIP student Lauren hit the news stands in London paper City AM in August. Lauren took on a work experience placement with law firm Mayer Brown, working across a number of different deprtments and charming absolutely everybody- well done Lauren!
Behind the scenes at PIP HQ we have been working hard on the launch of 2 exciting upcoming events- our 4th annual Mountain Bike Challnege in Henley-on-Thames on 17 October, and an exclusive exhibition of PIP students' artwork, 'Daring to Defy the Barriers' -27 October-21 November in the Guardian Gallery in Kings Cross. We have also been working alongside volunteers from Adobe to build a brand new website for PIP- this will launch this week and will give us a better looking and more responsive hub for us to keep you up to date with all of PIP's news! Why not get your first look here: www.piponline.org.uk
Until next time!
If the months since our last update can be summed up in just a handful of words, we’d have to call it ‘the time of the volunteer’. PIP has seen enthusiastic helping hands come in from the Department for Transport, Westminster and L’Oréal, all of whom have contributed a huge amount of energy and been a source of great excitement for our students.
In our last report, we promised an update on how the volunteers from the Prince’s Trust faired rejuvenating our downstairs breakout space. As you can see from the pictures below, they’ve done a fantastic job of brightening up the walls with a splash of ‘PIP green’ and students and staff alike are all very taken with the brand new black board. It’s a fantastic space for the students to relax in so a huge thank you to everybody involved!
When they weren't hard at work with paintbrush in hand, volunteers could be found taking part in a range of activities with PIP W9 students. Groups from the Department for Transport delivered some wonderful sessions which involved planning a journey on the tube to visit Buckingham Palace and learning about the new HS2 rail service. Just a month later, a group from Westminster City Council worked with students to make a fantastic piece of artwork for PIP, celebrating all of the money we raised bucketing with the students last year (£1016!).
More recently, May 21st meant Citizens Day and a visit from members of L’Oréal staff. After getting to grips with PIP by joining in with drama and music sessions, the volunteers delivered a fantastic workshop which encouraged the students to think about their own interpretation of beauty. After an afternoon making art inspried by the same theme, the day culminated in a presentation of the group’s hard work in the PIP garden.
Visitors also came in the form of musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who conducted (quite literally) a three day musical project with PIP students. Accompanied by cellos, vibraphones, triangles, guitars, drums and every instrument in between, students, staff and orchestra members collaborated to write three original songs. The pieces were inspired by the past, the present and our hopes for the future and were showcased in a spectacular performance at Paddington Arts. It was a genuine pleasure to work with every volunteer who came to PIP in the last quarter- thank you so much for all your hard work and please feel free to come and visit us again!
In between all the new faces, we said goodbye to a familiar one at the end of May when PIP development worker Rosie left us to take up a teaching position in Sri Lanka. We wish her all the best with her new adventure and can’t wait to start working with the new member of staff who will be filling her shoes in June!
As you can see, it’s been another action packed few months at PIP, with more news than we can do justice to here. To keep everyone up to date, we’ve created a new blog which you can find at www.pipldnblog.com where you can get to grips with day to day life at PIP, meet our students and learn about our fundraising efforts. In our latest post, our office administration assistant Jo talks through her working day and what having a job means for her independence. Make sure you bookmark the page for everything PIP- it will be the go to place for news until we report back here in the next quarter!
"As always, the holiday season gave us time to contemplate the year completed, as well as what lies ahead. We are continually grateful for our community’s support, while also amazed at the creativity and perseverance of our students. We look forward to creating more fantastic opportunities for our students in 2015 and hope you can be a part of a wonderful year for PIP." PIP Director Bill Feeney
Reading back through some of our project reports from 2014, it strikes me how often we seem surprised by how busy it has been at PIP, and how much we have managed to do in each short period. I am pleased to say that once again the last few months have been exceptionally busy- vibrant, exciting and a little reflective as we look to the future in 2015 and beyond.
The last few months have been characterized by a lot of partnership working with organisations that have been fantastic in helping us to achieve our mission of supporting every adult with a learning disability that we serve to achieve their potential. I am very pleased to say that PIP has been chosen to be Charity of the Year for the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis; we are so excited about this partnership and are very grateful for John Lewis’s excellent support.
As I write we have a team of volunteers from the Prince’s Trust downstairs working hard to give our breakout space a much- needed makeover- I will be including before and after photos in our next update, but you can get a sneak peek of these sooner by visiting PIP’s Twitter and Facebook pages- please ‘follow’ and ‘like’ us! The German YMCA have also been supporting PIP over the past few months by providing us with several volunteers, and inviting all of our staff and students for a delicious Christmas meal at the Lancaster Hall Hotel during our Winter Leisure Programme. A big thanks also to John Lewis Head Office, Squire and Partners, Novotel and everyone else who has supported PIP over the past few months- we couldn’t do it without all of you!
The topic on everyone’s lips here at PIP this week is the PIP Theatre Company’s upcoming performance of their original production ‘Lion Heart’ at the V and A on Saturday 14th March. Final rehearsals and preparations are well underway, and we are hoping that this year’s performance will be bigger than ever. Keep your eyes peeled for lots of photos and updates from the show in our next report.
We have also had a few changes of face here at PIP since our last update- we said goodbye to Development Worker Lauren and hello to new Development Worker Jonny, who runs our Healthy Cooking, Numeracy and Literacy groups at W9. We also said goodbye to Marketing Coordinator Megan, who joined us for 6 months as part of John Lewis’s Golden Jubilee secondment scheme. We loved working with Megan, who helped us to create a marketing strategy and build our external profile and made a huge difference in her short time at PIP.
Here is to our next busy week, month, quarter and year at PIP- we look forward to updating you in our next report!
What a busy couple of months it has been since our last update!
On 11th October, 72 riders, 40 volunteers and more than 120 people took part in our PIP Mountain Bike Challenge. Hosted by Lovibonds brewery in Henley on Thames and catered for by Bosleypatch Farms, this dedicated and enthusiastic group raised more than £26,000 through sponsorship, generosity, baking, and good will. PIP is incredibly grateful for everyone’s support, making this event our biggest fundraiser ever.
The summer and autumn leisure programs have been great fun and involved a trip to Brighton to enjoy the sunshine, 5 weeks of Capoeira lessons culminating in our very own PIP Carnival, a fantastic sports day run by volunteers from Rockspring PIM, an exciting PIP trip away in October and a Halloween themed week packed full of fun events for students who stayed at our centre in W9.
PIP's trip to sunny Brighton!
During PIP’s summer leisure program the PIP students are encouraged to have an input in the planned activities; a popular choice is always a day trip to Brighton. According to Sandy Whelan a PIP Development Worker “This year’s Brighton trip was a fabulous day out full of sea and sunshine.”
Fundraising in focus: PIP Pub Quiz
In partnership with Oliver Wyman, PIP hosted a Pub Quiz at the Elgin Pub in Maida Vale in September. Many thanks to the Elgin for their great service and food. Everyone's generosity and spirit supported us to raise an amazing £2,850.
“Both students and staff enjoyed a fantastic day using outfits designed by the students to celebrate our PIP carnival” states Lauren McKenzie a PIP Development Worker. Students performed their carnival dance routine that they had been practicing in capoeira sessions over 5 weeks of the summer leisure programme.
Volunteers from Rockspring PIM joined us at PIP on 7th August to run a sports day for our students. Alongside team games such as sack and egg and spoon races, the volunteers supported us to play a PIP Students vs. Staff football match- something our students have been asking to do for a long time! The staff lost spectacularly! Thank you to Rockspring volunteers for a wonderful day!
PIP Trip Away
From 27th to 31st October, 4 PIP staff and 11 students went on holiday to the QE2 Activity Centre in Bursledon, Hampshire. Students took part in a series of activities such as archery, indoor climbing, a challenging ropes course, orienteering and much more. This encouraged students to try something new and to get active.
After full days of activities, students and staff worked together to create tasty and healthy meals to eat together. Improving the health and wellbeing of our students is one of PIP’s key outcomes, so we are really happy that this year’s PIP holiday was so healthy and active! PIP Service Coordinator Katherine Gale said, ‘Our annual holiday is a chance for our students to take the independent living skills they learn at W9 and SW1 and put these into practice. It is important that we challenge our students and push them out of their comfort zone at times, and we certainly did this during our holiday this year! It is a pleasure to watch everybody continue to learn, develop, and have loads of fun!’PIP would like to say an enormous thank you to the staff and activity instructors at the QE2 Centre who worked so hard to make our stay so wonderful. We would also like to thank Rockspring PIM, who put together a team to run the recent Royal Parks Half Marathon and raised more than £4000 to cover the costs of this years PIP Holiday! You are all fantastic.
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