Families United Events Blog: Lockdown 2021

Author: Lisa, FUN Trustee & Parent.

Lockdown at the beginning of the year was a stressful and worrying time for us all and it meant that we were unable to run our usual trips and activities. However, that didn’t stop us in our endeavours to provide the valuable support that our member families have come to rely on. We were still able to provide a programme of events to be enjoyed from the safety of our own homes whilst still interacting with others through the power of technology.

We were very pleased to have received funding from the ASDA supporting the community Grant team. The Feeding Communities Grant was designed to help provide meals to support local communities in these ever changing times. Supporting those with food provision is needed more than ever to help Families through the pandemic with the additional costs associated with shielding, having children who are homeschooled, are unable to work due to restrictions etc. With the funding made available we arranged for a fruit and veg pack to be delivered to the homes of our most vulnerable member families by a local supplier based in the market called Warrington Fruit & veg. The packs were well recieved and it was lovely to see photos of smiling faces with all the lovely fresh and healthy produce.
We were also very lucky to receive funding from Sports England to provide LUSU sports kits bags to keep our members active during the pandemic  lockdown. The bags contained specialist sports equipment which has been carefully designed to maximise learning, play and experience. By stimulating new ideas and activities,  the LUSU products made it possible for individuals of all abilites to benefit from inclusive sport.
The washable kit acts as a ‘lesson in a bag’ and includes differentiated lesson cards for  the sports activities . The kit bags each contained: 1 x 17L Orange Individual Backpack, 1 x Tap and Swing, 1 x Target, 1 x Lightweight Ball, 2 x Fluff Balls, 2 x Nylon Squares, 1 x Foam Bell Rocket, 1 x Airflow Bell Ball, 1 x Sensory Ball, 2 x Balloons, 1 x Extendable Catching Net, 1 x Mini Tennis Ball, 1 x Set Activity Cards, 1 x Rattle Ball, 2 x Tap Hands, 1 x Small Flat Disc Marker, 1 x Ball Pump. 
Our members had a great time trying out the equipment and given the portability of the product could be taken to the park or other outdoor spaces to play with once lockdown had eased.

Magic Matt (themagicmattshow.co.uk) provided fantastic magic shows via zoom. He is a great entertainer and really engaged with our members. As well as dazzling us with his fantastic array of tricks performed with wit and humour, he also taught us how to do our own magic tricks with great suggestions for adaptations to make the tricks accessible for all our members. I think he inspired several of our members to become budding magicians!

A great therapeutic and learning activity was offered via a 3 month postal subscription to Mud and Bloom boxes (mudandbloom.com). The boxes contained nature and craft activities encompassing the four seasons and included nature news, spotting activities and games to teach us about animals, plants, insects, birds and the seasons. From the first box we made a ‘Gods Eye’ which involved us going out on nature walks looking for sticks which we then used to wrap colourful yarn around to make the ‘eye’ – this is meant to be a way of getting in touch with the spiritual world! Not sure that happened but it certainly made a very attractive craft display!

We also made fabulous little clay and twig hedgehogs which was a lovely tactile activity, especially for our sensory seeking members! We planted Dwarf Lupin seeds and Snow Peas and it was fabulous to see how well everyone did with the progress of their growth. Over the months we have grown a variety of vegetables including cherry tomatoes and beetroot and lovely flowers like French Marigolds and Chinese Aster. The boxes introduced a lot of our members to a love of gardening which was a great mindful activity to enjoy through lock down.

To keep our members’ minds active whilst they were unable to attend school, we offered a
postal science box(curiosity-box.com) to experiment with. Members got to choose whether to dabble with potent potions which changed colour or fizzed or illuminate with light by making a pinhole camera, explore how light bends and splits into colours of the rainbow or to learn about flowers and bees. The activities were really interesting and made science ‘Fun’ for our members!

For Mothers’ Day we offered our members the opportunity to make their own floral gift basket to present to their mums on their special day. Honey Bee florists (honeybeeflorists.co.uk) provided a lovely kit with an array of pretty flowers, some oasis, a little basket and a wooden sign to create a gorgeous arrangement following a video tutorial. I think all the mums were very pleased with this present.

The creativity continued into Easter with our scrumptious Easter cake making activity provided by Room Forty (roomforty.co.uk). A kit
containing a delicious chocolate sponge cake, icing and a range of sweet treats including chocolate bunnies, marshmallows, chocolate worms, and carrot shaped biscuits was transformed into a delicious and very chocolatey cake. Our members loved getting a bit messy with this activity and it was lovely to see all the different designs. Chocolate and cake – a match made in heaven!

We found an amazing theatre company called Frozen Light (frozenlighttheatre.com) who create multi-sensory theatre for audiences with multiple learning difficulties. They were able to provide an at home sensory movie experience for our members called ‘2065’ which followed a group of rebels living outside the system. An archivist-rebel in residence guided us through what like was like in 2065. Each family received a ‘rebel pack’ along with instructions on how to access the movie. The rebel pack contained a number of items to support our sensory experience such as a fan and light, an old book, rose scented confetti, a tin of scented beans and a metallic blanket to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of the story. It was an amazing and profound performance brought to life by the sensory activities. It was so well thought out and brilliant as it was accessible to all levels of ability and understanding. We will keep a look out for future performances from this fantastic and innovative group.

Evoking a bit of a Mary Poppins vibe we decided to ‘lets go fly a kite…’ by offering a design and make your own kite zoom session from goflyyourkite.com. This is a family run business which delivers STEM and Art kite workshops. The kit contained a white kite, pictures to trace, marker pens and rods and kite handles. The kites were really easy to draw on and to put together with help from a friendly and informal workshop run by Glenn Heasley. As the kites were such a brilliant white and the marker pens so colourful, the designs we drew looked really striking and effective.

 

Glenn also taught us the most successful way to fly a kite and we had some fantastic outdoor fun putting our learning into practice – I wasn’t sure who enjoyed it more – the adults or children!

Keeping with the safe theatre theme we offered tickets to a car park showing of ‘The Billionaire Boy’ by David Williams. The performance is on a large stage in front of a stadium full of cars with the sound being accessed through your car radio. It was a very clever way of being able to see a theatre show without the risks of contracting Covid. A lot of our members love the David Walliams stories and this show certainly didn’t disappoint.

Providing a bit of mindful craftiness for parents, we ran a zoom parent focus macramé session using
eco friendly kits from Geearte Makes. We each made an intricate plant holder in a colour of our choice. Some of us got into a bit of a tangle but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed a lovely catch up with other parents. The kits come with easy to follow instructions and access to a video tutorial and it was nice to learn a new craft skill over lockdown.

Mama mia! Our final at home activity was pizza making with kits provided by local company Ruddies pizzas. It was great fun stretching out the pizza dough and then decorating with the scrummy toppings.


Another fab tactile activity for our sensory members. There was even a prize for the best pizza judged by George the owner of Ruddies himself! Think we discovered several budding pizza chefs through this activity.

With special thanks to the small local businesses who have supported our activities. If you haven’t already please check them out!!

https://www.themagicmattshow.co.uk , https://ruddies.co.uk