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Friends of the Elderly and YAWN Life Build Partnership for Residents and Youth Members to Engage and Have Fun

At Little Bramingham Farm, the Luton-based residential care home run by charity Friends of the Elderly, the care team has formed a new community relationship with YAWN Life, a Community Interest Company (CIC) and the day service related to the YAWN charity, which was created specifically for sociable young at heart adults who have learning disabilities.

Members of the YAWN Life group visit Little Bramingham Farm every Tuesday for three hours to help with the upkeep of the care home’s beautiful gardens. “It’s wonderful to have the YAWN Life team visit us each week,” said Karen Charity, the Activities Coordinator at Little Bramingham Farm. “Along with their group leaders, the members are currently working hard on our six raised beds in the allotment area of our garden. They have wasted no time getting their hands dirty, weeding and making the beds ready for planting. They are doing a great job.”

The YAWN charity was created in 2006 by Co-founders Jeanette Tennyson and Julie Woodhouse after the pair met when they were working at a children’s care centre in Luton. “Julie and I both have children with additional needs and, after chatting, we both agreed that there was a lack of social interactions and activities available for their age group. So, to fill that void, we registered and created the YAWN charity,” said Jeanette.

The YAWN charity began hosting a weekly youth group in a community centre in Houghton Regis and, from the first meeting, the group proved to be a success. “We ran activities, took our members on day trips to the seaside or theme parks and even on weekend breaks and holidays,” added Julie. “Ten years ago, when our own children left college and moved onto day care, we were aware that a lot of our youth group were also looking at day care options, but so many were building based, with no external activities. Identifying this need, Jeanette and I decided to branch out and create YAWN Life, our own day care service to, again, fill a gap in the sector and meet all the individual requirements of our members.”

Lisa Turnbull, the Officer Manager at Little Bramingham Farm, is a friend of Jeanette’s and following a conversation, the idea of YAWN Life visiting the care home was born.

Emma Lawrance, the Registered Manager at Little Bramingham Farm said: “It’s so wonderful that YAWN Life agreed to visit and help with our allotments, it’s not only great for the YAWN Life members, but also for our residents as they thoroughly enjoy getting involved, chatting to the young group members and, even sometimes, offering gardening advice.

“We have chosen Tuesdays for the visits as this coincides with our Susie’s Tea Room being open. This gives all the community a chance to engage together, interact with the YAWN Life team and see what a great job there are doing for us.

“The residents have built good relationships with The YAWN Life Members and always make sure they pop out to see them for a chat to find out what they have been up to, how the raised beds are coming along and to hear about the other activities they have taken part in since they saw them last,” Emma continued.

“Our allotment area is a work in progress, but it’s wonderful to see the YAWN Life members so engaged with what they are doing and having fun. The weekly visits are an ongoing activity and once the raised beds are finished and planted, we’ve agreed with Jeanette and Julie that we’ll find out what they’d like to do next and make it happen. Perhaps taking part in some of our activities and interacting with the residents. It could be baking, exercise classes, arts and crafts or game sessions. We’ve got such a wide and varied activities calendar, I’m sure there will be something that they will enjoy participating in,” Emma concluded.

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