Barnstondale scores a winner at Anfield

Thanks to the ongoing support from Vauxhall Motors, we nominated a local football team to receive training at the famous Anfield Academy of Football.

Ellesmere Port-based Vauxhall Motors has been a long-standing supporter of Barnstondale. The company has provided new vehicles for the charity and staff have given up their free time to carry out volunteer work on-site over the last six years. Vauxhall is also a sponsor of Liverpool Football Club and as part of its sponsorship, it had the opportunity to send a youth team for one day’s training at the Anfield Academy of Football. Knowing Barnstondale’s close links with many of the local football teams, Vauxhall gave them the chance to choose the team to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

11 players from Heswall Under-11s were selected to receive a full day of first-class coaching from the staff on the AstroTurf pitches at Liverpool FC’s training ground, as well as touring the facility and seeing where Liverpool’s Under-21 team train.

George Jones, Barnstondale’s centre manager commented: “The boys had an amazing day and came away tired but inspired. They all received attendance medals and a new football. Huge thanks to Vauxhall Motors for its continued support and for giving us the opportunity to give this team a taste of Premiership training.”

Commented Cherie Denton, Community Relations Coordinator at Vauxhall Motors: “It’s important for us to develop and support close links within our local community. We have been working with Barnstondale for some time now and the centre does a great job in encouraging sporting and outdoor activities. We were delighted to be able to benefit one of the groups that regularly uses Barnstondale’s facilities, through our wider sponsorship with Liverpool FC.”

Fantastic funding!

barnie-ipadBarnstondale has enjoyed an excellent fundraising boost at the beginning of 2016, with over £13,000 being donated so far. The centre has had several donors answer its call for funds and is able to implement some of its latest innovations and improvements.

Among the roll call of donors was the Montse Benítez Foundation with a donation of £5,800 and the Morrisons Foundation, which has donated £1,135. Other donations have come from Liverpool-based charitable organisation the Johnson Foundation (£2,500), The Rank Foundation, a grant-giving charitable trust (£750) and the Medicash Charitable Trust (£2,878.80).

The donated funds will be used towards a new wet room, the installation of two defibrillators to be used on site and a new changing table for Meadow Cabin, one of the centre’s specialised accommodation facilities. As well as acknowledging the importance of outdoor activities and physical health, Barnstondale also recognises the role technology plays in young peoples’ lives today. The centre will also be using the funds towards the installation of Wi-Fi across its site and the purchase of seven iPads. Visitors will be able to use these to take photos of their experiences and to research and record information. Barnstondale is also continuing to raise funds to improve its sports facilities, by purchasing new sports equipment and refurbishing the multi-use games area (MUGA).

George Jones, Barnstondale’s manager commented: “The donors’ combined generosity has meant that we have now reached our targets to enable us to buy the new changing table, both defibrillators and have sufficient funds to purchase all seven iPads.

“We are always raising funds and our next aims are to improve our welcome area – with better gate security and an intercom, carpark lighting, marked walk-ways and resurfacing. – We have 9 wet rooms that urgently need upgrading to make them suitable for our disabled visitors. This includes the installation of appropriate showers, the cost of which is £2,000 per bathroom. We’d like any local people or organisations, such as golf clubs, to consider us as their charity of choice to offer support. We’re very grateful to everyone who has made the start of 2016 such an encouraging one for the centre.”

Vauxhall staff clear the road

vauxhall-volunteersVauxhall Network Q staff from all across the country visited us recently to volunteer in helping establish the charity’s new Wild Wood Challenge. The 21-strong team spent a day working alongside the our own staff to clear space for ‘villages’ to be built in its wooded area.

Once introduced, participants in this challenge will have the opportunity to spend a day in the woods, taking on a range of fun activities such as building shelters, lighting fires and learning new skills in a natural setting. We’ve previously run pilots of its Wild Wood Challenge but were short of space to accommodate school groups who regularly enjoy its other activities. The support of Vauxhall Network Q’s team was a huge help as it was expected that clearing the space would take a considerable amount of time and place a strain on the charity’s resources. Barnstondale now has three sites available which are particularly suited to taking groups of children.

Vauxhall Network Q has a strong commitment to supporting the local community and as part of its 25th birthday celebrations the team decided to support Barnstondale, which its Ellesmere Port branch has worked with in the past. As well as championing its company values, the staff saw the day as an opportunity for a useful team building exercise. The team certainly proved its ability to overcome many obstacles, especially given the initial doubt which many felt towards being able to clear the entire space in a single day. Staff members even had time spare to try their hand at rifle shooting, climbing and abseiling before returning to their work locations across the country.

Commented Derek Wilson, Operations Manager for Vauxhall Network Q division: “We wanted to support Barnstondale because we heard about their work in bringing young people together from a variety of different backgrounds – providing opportunities for everybody to learn, grow and personally develop. A big part of our ethos is about supporting champions of the community such as this charity and we had a great time doing it. We would recommend people pay a visit and get involved themselves if they haven’t already been.”

Commented George Jones, centre manager at Barnstondale: “The effort from the Vauxhall team was amazing, they worked so hard to create the clear spaces we need for our Wild Wood Challenge. They were great company and we enjoyed showing them some of our other activities. We really do appreciate all their help. We warmly welcome any future efforts from other businesses whose staff would like to get hands on in supporting us”

Barnstondale wins Community Enterprise of the year award

Barnstondale recognised as leader in the Wirral social enterprise movement

untitled-1080178On Friday 12 June, Barnstondale won the Community Enterprise of the Year award at the first ever Wirral CVS Wirral Third Sector Business Awards 2015. The award recognises us as a leader in the Wirral social enterprise movement. It also acknowledges our continuous commitment to the delivery of excellent services to both commercial and community groups over the past year.

The awards were established to highlight the significant impact that the social enterprise/charity sector has on the Wirral economy. There were over 90 nominations submitted in total, across 11 categories.

Commented George Jones, Barnstondale centre manager: “We talked about introducing log cabins to our facility some years ago. We built the first in 2000, then another in 2005 and finally Meadow Cabin, which caters to people with any disability and cost £650,000 to install, in 2011. It was an ambitious idea – one that meant we could offer a different, more memorable experience to our visitors – but we did it. Since then we’ve continued to think of new, enterprising and innovative ways to be a facility that the community can be proud of. In the last 12 months we have made a concerted effort to implement some exciting developments, including a new sensory trail. It’s wonderful to have received recognition from Wirral CVS for the work that we do.”

Awards organisers Wirral CVS supports more than 500 charities and hundreds of individuals, providing them with information, advice, networking and learning opportunities.

SingMe Merseyside’s community spirit resonates

DSC_8334eSingMe Merseyside – a community group that offers musical, creative and performance activities – held its bimonthly SingMe Together fundraiser at Barnstondale on 11 June. The event raised £800 for the centre, from the tickets sales and raffle.

SingMe Merseyside’s activities range from evening singing club classes and afternoon tea sing-a-longs to workplace singing and activity sessions. The SingMe Together meetings are a chance for all members from different SingMe groups to come together and raise money for a local charity. This helps the group build relationships within the local community, with a different charity benefitting every time.

Around 100 people attended the choral, coffee and cake morning, where they enjoyed the choir’s performance in our recently upgraded conference room. The morning’s entertainment was made complete by a guest appearance from Barnie Owl, who was an absolute hoot!

Despite being a commercial enterprise, as a charity, we rely on fundraising and charitable donations to cover our capital investment costs. We are currently fundraising to pay for an improved MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) concourse and the amount donated will contribute significantly to the required total.

Commented Heidi Hughes, Business Director at Barnstondale: “The MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) is a core feature of our site, both in terms of its location and its purpose. It enables groups to play numerous games in a safe environment and it is used on a daily basis. Since it was first installed in 2009, wear and tear has caused colours to fade on the surface and the lines have become less prominent. The proceeds from this concert will contribute significantly to the fundraising for this project, which will help ensure visiting children continue to enjoy the safe play outdoors. It’s very exciting to be welcoming community fundraising to our schedule of activities and we’re very grateful to SingMe Merseyside for choosing to support Barnstondale.”

Binns Big Barnstondale Bike!

binns-big-bike-web2Simon Binns, one of our hard-working staff here at Barnstondale, is taking his job to another level to raise funds for the centre, by cycling from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. Simon and his three friends will be setting off on Saturday 30 May and hope to pedal up to 1,000 miles, across the length and breadth of the country, in just 14 days. While Simon will be fundraising for Barnstondale, the others will also be supporting their own local charities.

The John o’ Groats to Land’s End route runs the whole length of mainland UK. It is a popular challenge for many cyclists and is often used to raise money for charity. Starting at the tip of Scotland, the group will pass through some of Britain’s most iconic landmarks and scenic countryside, to reach the Pewith Peninsula in Cornwall. The Lake District, Inverness and the Severn Bridge will all be along the route, with local points of interest including Runcorn and Chester. In recent times the route has been used as a rite of passage by cyclists taking on the most iconic and toughest cycling challenge in Britain. Team GB rower and Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and former England Rugby captain Lewis Moody have both completed this route for their chosen charities in the past.

Commented Simon Binns, employee at Barnstondale: “Completing this cycle challenge was always on my bucket list. Now in my 50th birthday year, I feel this is a good time to finally turn my dream into reality. Despite minimal experience and some uncharacteristic physiques not typically suited to cycling, my friends and I have been working hard over the last few months to train and get prepared for the ride. We’re in no doubt that this will be a gruelling task, but we’re excited to take to the roads and explore Britain in all of its glory.”

Also taking part in the challenge are Dr Ian Woods, a GP based at Long Lane Medical Centre in Aintree, Alastair Sunderland, a retired local architect, and self-employed painter and decorator Gary Tull or ‘Tully the Brush’. Dr Woods has also chosen to raise funds for a cause closely related to his career – Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, one of the largest, networked cancer centres in the country, operating from nine sites across Merseyside and Cheshire. Alastair is supporting a local church’s youth group on their annual trip, where they will be helping out at an African school.

Commented Heidi Hughes, Barnstondale’s Business Director, “As well as fundraising to pay for maintenance and improvement work, Barnstondale also earmarks some of its money to pay for children who visit with larger groups and whose parents are unable to afford the cost of their trip, so that they don’t miss out. As a charity focused on supporting the development of young people, especially those from socially deprived areas or challenging backgrounds, this is important to us. Simon’s fundraising will help enable this to happen. He is going above and beyond the call of duty and we’re very grateful for his support.”

To sponsor Simon, visit mydonate.bt.com/events/barnstondalebigbike/.

Sing Me Merseyside choir to perform at Barnstondale event

singmecoffeemorningThe outstanding Sing Me Merseyside choir have already been kind enough to fund-raise for Barnstondale at some of their other performances, but on Thursday 11th June they’ll be performing right here – and we’d love for you to come too!

We’re hosting a coffee morning that Sing Me Merseyside will be performing their popular selection of tunes at, with all proceeds from the £5 entry going towards the work of Barnstondale.

Sing Me Merseyside choir can promise you great entertainment, we can promise you delicious cakes and endless refills for your drinks, plus we’ll also be holding a raffle during the event. With so much to enjoy we’re sure good conversation is guaranteed.

We’d love to see you here on Thursday 11th June, between 10am and 12pm for the event. If you’d like to come you can purchase a ticket by calling Ruth on 0151 648 1412, or simply turn up on the day and pay then.

Come for a wonderful morning and the opportunity to make a difference to the life of a young person.

 

Hopes of beautiful bluebells return

bluebellsWith the help of local school children from Pensby Primary, volunteer John Earp has been doing his bit to help conserve Barnstondale’s beautiful rural setting.

When the bluebells are in bloom on the dales, it’s a beautiful sight to see. But there has been a noticeable decline in recent times, so we were advised by Dr Hilary Ash, Hon. Conservation Officer for Wirral Wildlife to plant native bluebells to replenish them. On a cold winter’s day in November, John and the schoolchildren planted approximately 1,000 bluebells, which should come into bloom this spring.

Dr Hilary Ash, Hon. Conservation Officer for Wirral Wildlife said: “Barnstondale includes areas of ancient woodland where bluebells should thrive. When the bluebells flower in April-May, they are a feast for us to look at and smell, but also important early nectar for pollinators waking up after winter. It is excellent to see that everyone at Barnstondale has worked hard to re-introduce the flower into the local area. I was pleased to be able to give advice on how best they could help the situation and they have done a brilliant job.

“It is always good to involve children in caring for our world (and getting muddy in the process!). I’m sure the children learnt a few useful tips from John and the team about conservation work and the importance of maintaining the natural environment, which will be extremely valuable knowledge for them in the future.”

Over the last two years John has been working tirelessly to improve our 12 acre woodland, which forms an important part of the ‘adventure experience’. In November last year, John’s dedication to improving and preserving the landscape was acknowledged by Wirral Globe, where he won the ‘Contribution to the Community’ award at the Golden Globe Awards 2014.

Animals make tracks to Barnstondale

P1000982Work has now begun on the second phase of our sensory trail project. Large animal statues and hand-crafted seats have already been purchased and will complete the experiential element of the trail. The project is estimated to cost around £23,000 once complete and is on-schedule to be opened in April 2015. Whilst fortunate that visitor fees cover our overhead costs, we rely heavily on donations and fundraising to pay for new projects and improvement work. Wirral Lions, Santander, Camelia Trust and Wirral Fund for Children with Special Needs are amongst the grant funders that have helped finance this specific project.

Commented George Jones, Barnstondale centre manager: “Staying in-line with the demands and needs of present day visitors is important to us, so we are always thinking of new ways to evolve and develop our facility. In recent years we have made major improvements to the woodland access ways, purchased our third log cabin and introduced rifle shooting to our list of activities, to name just a few changes.

“Now we are working on our first ever sensory trail, with future plans to introduce elements of this throughout our whole site. Whilst work continues on the landscaping, we’ve been busy purchasing some of the finishing touches. Our hope is that the colourful drawings on the totem pole, giraffe and ostriches will act as a stimulus to heighten engagement and interaction. We’ve also bought seats carved like turtles, hands and sheep and are planning on including mirrors, bongos and rain wheels along the trail too.

“Barnstondale is located within a beautiful rural setting and we wanted to take full advantage of this. We’re creating a space that is designed for everyone to enjoy and is a great way for visitors to connect with the immediate and surrounding environment.”

This is our first ever sensory trail and is designed to be accessible for children of all abilities. The first phase was creating a garden area, which features a sheltered decking, stone path, water feature and huge planters filled with perennial foliage plants, chosen specifically for their aromas and textures. Local tradesmen are now installing the sensory trail, which will include textures, surfaces, musical instruments, balance ramps and much more. Once complete, the trail will provide a relaxing and stimulating outdoor space for everyone to enjoy. The project began in April last year and forms part of our objective to provide a facility that is accessible for all.

Barnie Owl Challenge 2014

barnie-challenge

Barnie Owl has got a challenge for you! Are you brave enough to accept it?

The Barnie Owl Challenge for 2014 will be a sponsored abseil on Saturday 15th November to raise money for young people to be able to come to Barnstondale.

Barnstondale is a charity that provides residential facilities and activities to groups of young people. We recognise that raising the funds to come can be difficult for schools and groups and so we’re launching this exciting challenge that could slice the cost of coming to stay for as many children as possible.

We know that a visit to Barnstondale can be a life changing event for young people and so we want to make it as easy as possible for them to be able to come here. A few moments on a rope on our imposing 35 foot high abseil tower is a real challenge, but its one that can make a real difference to the life of a child – and that has to be worth taking up the challenge for!

We need people like you to sign up to take part and raise money as part of this event. If as many people as possible sign up and raise sponsorship money then children could even have a completely free trip!

ALL sponsorship money raised goes directly towards the cost of children’s visits to Barnstondale. All we ask is a £5 registration fee is paid so that everything can be run as safely as possible.

Why not take up the challenge? After all, this is a charity challenge that doesn’t even need any ice! Better still, take part and challenge your friends to join you!

barnie-fly-failBarnie Owl will be there on the day and will be taking part in the abseil as well, so if a giant owl mascot is brave enough to do it then can you say you’re not? How often do you get to prove you’re braver than a giant owl? We’re absolutely certain that you’ll be able to do it better than he can….

We really hope that you’ll be able to join us for what promises to be a fun and exciting day, while raising funds to make a difference for as many young people as possible.