Since 1988, Ethel Trust have been using their community barge to provide canal and river experiences for vulnerable groups, ranging from youngsters of primary school age with learning and physical disabilities, through to young adults with autism and in residential care, to the elderly coping with multiple disabilities and mobility issues.
Previous projects that the Ethel Trust have undertaken indicated that the impact – of giving elderly people in residential care a boat outing – lasts long after the actual day spent on the boat. They found it enhanced the well-being of participants and offers the opportunity for social interaction back in their communities, giving them memories that they can use as the basis for conversation with friends and family. This is particularly significant for those who are disabled, and who under normal circumstances would be unable to participate in activities based around the inland waterways system.
Thanks to grant funding, people on the boat excursions expressed feelings of pleasure at being out in the inland waterways environment, able to see wildlife in a way not possible in their normal day to day environment.
Several highlighted the fact that there were very few opportunities for groups with wheelchair users in residential care to all participate in outdoor activities, and this made the experience on the barge very special. The beneficiaries were particularly pleased to be able to take a turn at steering the boat, not something people expect to be doing at that age, and many expressed satisfaction at being able to be ‘in control’ of something. Staff from the homes reported that the experience gave the beneficiaries shared memories that provided the basis for conversation back in the home, and with friends and family who came to visit.
Two people who came back feeling uplifted by their outing were Ralph (93) and Betty (91), married for 69 years. Betty has severe dementia and mobility issues and is a care home resident. Ralph is still able to live independently and joins Betty all day and every day at the home, but with Betty’s conditions they have virtually no opportunity to be together in the outside environment.
Ralph explained to the crew how much the experience on the barge had meant to them both, and how it would be so important in giving them a shared experience to talk about in the future.
Many of the residents enjoyed the company of the volunteers and were pleased to be able to talk to new people.
As well as operating the boat, Ethel Trust’s volunteers are always keen to engage with the passengers to ensure that they gain maximum benefit from the experience, encouraging all of them to try steering the barge and assist opening locks and bridges whenever possible.
With approximately thirty-five volunteers, they all have enhanced Disclosure and Barring checks to work with children and adults and have undertaken nationally accredited training to gain either their Competent Crew Certificate or Certificate in Community Boat Management. In addition, they have undertaken Safeguarding training and many hold First Aid Certificates.
Ethel Trust said:
“We have found the funding from the The Tweenbridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund to be vital for the work we carry out for the elderly residents of Thorne and the surrounding area. Having been fortunate to have been supported for two years by the fund, we have been able to make a significant impact in the community.”
More information about The Tweenbridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund
With energy company RWE providing funding for local projects, this is an opportunity for community groups to apply for grants between £1,000 to £5,000 for projects, activities and improving community buildings in Thorne and Moorends.
Projects must benefit residents in Thorne and Moorends and those within a three mile radius of the wind farm. Find out which area it covers here
If your community group is involved in the activities below, send us your application
Deadline for applications: Friday 3rd December 2021.