Covid-19 prevented Sydenham House from attending its usual residential trip to the seaside – something sorely missed by residents as one of their favourite things to do. However, determined to not let lockdown rules get the better of them, staff at Sydenham House got creative in seeking ways to bring the beach to the residents instead.
Fully aware of the benefits of residents spending time outside for their wellbeing, the beach project began to form. Initially, the plan was to build a large sand pit so residents could feel the sweet sensation of sand between their toes. However, nothing prepared them for what that finally came to fruition.
Activity Coordinator, Lauryn, posted a request on Facebook for beach items to be donated to assist with the project. The response was overwhelming, showing just how valued Sydenham House is within its local community; paddling pools, windbreakers, bucket and spades were provided to the home. Wessex Water donated two tonnes of sand, Smilers donated four tonnes and Jewsons donated an incredible six tonnes. By this point the project was really starting to take shape, but it got much better.
Sandy reached out to councillor, Dave Hall, seeking help from someone with a small digger to make space for all the sand donated, as the original sand pit had been superseded. Much to her surprise, she was put in touch with Lorna, from the building company Wilmot Dixon. Lorna visited the home that same day to devise a plan of action. However, Lorna and Sandy took it one step further and decided to turn the summer house into a beach café and create the illusion of beach huts along the remaining wall.
Sandy discovered Lorna’s kindness knew no bounds: her team painted the beach café, supplied the wood for the beach huts, painted them bright colours and donated a lovely seated shelter.
There was then Frank, from PJB, who created an electric supply to the new café, having worked with the home for years. Nigel, from Taylor West, donated vinyl flooring, while B&C Joinery of Taunton made and donated the counter and shelving for the café. Bridgwater Carnival Club built an ice cream cart on a mobility scooter, donated by the family of late resident Jean Gale, which has since been fondly called ‘Jean’s creams’. The Property Team made the final touches, including a sign to go above the door titled ‘Syd’s Beach Café’.
Sydenham House is overwhelmed by the generosity and help of those around them, and is forever grateful. The project has made a massive difference to the home, which they can enjoy all year round. It’s allowed residents freedom to get out of the home in safe and secure area that will enhance their wellbeing. It’s given them something to focus on in the coming months, as a welcomed distraction from coronavirus.
Sydenham House continues to look forward to making sure all its residents are able to visit the beach without risk of infection, where they can enjoy fish & chips, ice-creams and drinks long into the winter months – all thanks to the wonderful people who have helped with the project.