For those with conditions such as autism routine is very important; it can be a stabilising factor in their lives, and even the slightest change can be deeply unsettling; concepts such as social distancing and self-isolation are hard for our service users to understand. At the same time, many have complex healthcare needs and fall into the category of the most vulnerable people in our community, and so we must protect them.
We recently had to make the difficult decision to close the Arts & Crafts Centre. It was the only decision we could make, but hard because we know our art makers will feel a huge sense of loss until we are able to re-open. We have?had to deep clean multiple sites in our housing. Simultaneously, some of our employees have also needed to self-isolate. College has fewer students because some parents have kept their children at home and we are also frantically managing staffing rotas in a dynamic environment. Having said all of that, we have an incredible team who are going the extra mile, and then some, to ensure support is there. Henshaws College will stay open as long as possible to support our most vulnerable students. This article from FE week focuses on the heroic efforts of keeping Henshaws Specialist College and other special education settings open and why this is so vital right now feweek.co.uk/2020/04/04/extraordinary-efforts-of-staff-still-caring-for-vulnerable-learners/. For those students who do need to be at home we have created home education packs, and we are now doing so for our art makers. We are also:
- Creating emergency cleaning packs for houses
- Creating?quizzes and craft kits which can be done at home – see images attached for examples of our beautiful art packs and perhaps be inspired to try for yourself at home!
- Sending out simple bakery and recipes ideas for meals in accessible formats
- Delivering fresh food once a week to houses
- Making regular befriending phone calls to those who are isolated
- Putting together online sessions - encourage colleagues, friends and family to join in with these with a great range of videos to explore…Discover songs, meditation, drama, the Makaton sign of the week and more at dougalterego.wixsite.com/drama plus be introduced to Tai Chi here buff.ly/2RolE2H
You’ll appreciate, that like everyone else, we are crisis managing the situation in a rapidly changing environment, our pre-planned emergency measures are working, and we are getting help and support to those who really need it.?As previously mentioned, we have also launched a vital fundraising appeal – more on which attached along with a video with more info here bit.ly/HenshawsCovid19Appeal - to try and cover the additional expenses aforementioned along with the losses from the fundraising activity and event cancellations which will be felt over the coming weeks and months. Any way you, your colleagues, friends and family can help fundraise to support the appeal would be hugely appreciated by all at Henshaws.
You can keep up to date with positive stories and pictures through our social media channels on Facebook @HenshawsACC, Twitter @HenshawsArts and Instagram @henshawsarts. I have also attached a blog post penned by Kate Simpson offering a mum’s perspective on Covid-19 and autism, which I hope you will find an insightful read.
As well as asking for donations we’re encouraging companies and individuals to think differently and instead of doing dress down Friday, to take part in a dress-up day with Henshaws #FancyFriday i.e. don your fanciest frock or smartest suit on Fridays, send us a photo & donate if you can. Text HENSHAWS10 to donate £10 (or HENSHAWS followed by whatever number you’d like to give) to 70085 to donate to our Appeal. This is great for companies with employees working from home, or for people doing friends and family get togethers online!
We’re also seeing individuals come up with creative ways of raising funds - Throwing in the link here to my husband and his very itchy wig as an example to show how we can all be fundraisers - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pocahontas-henshaws