Our themes for January were New Years, Winter, Our Countries and then Burns Night. These topics allowed us to explore ourselves and get to know each other better.

During our first week, we set ourselves New Year’s resolutions for us to work towards throughout the year, looking at what we achieved last year, what we want to achieve this year and what we are most proud of.

When we looked at our countries as a group, where we have embraced our members’ and staffs’ heritages.     

Eastleigh Members cooking up a storm

We have a member who was keen to teach us about his Polish roots, we tried some Polish food and we visited a local Polish food shop. We made an effort to learn a few key Polish terms, which have helped him feel included and involved, such as Smacznego (enjoy your meal). We then travelled to Turkey, where we were able to try more cultural food – we cooked and tasted flatbread and Cacik dip. Our members had a go at cooking different foods throughout the month, expanding their tastebuds. One of our staff members has duel citizanship with Canada, this is something exciting that we wanted to explore – we spent the day celebrating Canada, cooking pancakes and looking at the different animals we might find in Canada.

We’ve had a very musical month at Eastleigh, spending most afternoons singing, signing and dancing around together. This allowed our members to express themselves physically through dance and song whilst growing in confidence, using Makaton to build up our knowledge base (members’ and staff)

During a lot of our craft projects, our members have been able to work on their fine motor skills, scissor skills and exploring their own creativity skills, (including sewing, a first for some members) whilst following a rich and varied activity plan, capturing world events and celebrations such as New Years Eve and Burns Night.

We have visited Basingstoke James’ Place and had a visit from the nursery next door, which allowed our members to forge more community links, socialising well with others, learn about their needs and how to interact well with everyone. This has helped teach tolerance, acceptance and kindness, as well as giving the member the opportunity to run the activites for the children. Staff were able to take a step back and enjoy the independence our members were enjoying.

We are very excited to share that we are now supporting a local food pantry, becoming a drop-off centre for donations. Our members will be supporting the community by sorting and delivering donations when we have collected enough together. Our members are excited to get involved in helping and learning empathy and patience. On the back of this, we had discussions around food waste, and we made soup from vegetables we brought in from home, adding the added experience of trying new foods for the first time.

We have been on a variety of outdoor trips, including local parks, community cafes, garden centres, and aqua centres to see the fish and other aquatic and land-living animals alongside enrichment trips such as the Shoe Exhibition held in the Local Library Hub The Arc. Member looked at shoes through the ages, opening up discussions such as the age, colour and materials used in preparation to design our own James’ Place shoe and bag collection 2024.