In the spotlight: The Nest Project

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The Nest Project’s vision is to ensure every child living in Bath and North East Somerset is provided for. To make their vision a reality The Nest provides clothing and equipment for children aged 0-5, free of charge, whilst also lending a listening ear and acting as a primary contact for signposting to various other charities and services.

St John’s Foundation works in partnership with The Nest Project to build communities where children can grow into happy, healthy and educated members of society. The work delivered through the Foundation Fund supports levelling the educational playing field in our communities and helps eradicate inequalities.

Reaching more communities is central to St John’s and The Nest’s Project’s long-term strategy. The expansion will make The Nest more accessible for families across the city, especially those without transport. To support and further The Nest’s reach within the community St John’s awarded funding of £63,800. This funding has directly impacted 651 beneficiaries through the provision of essential items, toddler groups and support services.

Essential items:                                                                                                                                       

The Nest project used a portion of its funding to buy essential items (such as stair gates, baby monitors, and strollers) that are often in high demand for parents. This has resulted in a positive impact for families, and beneficiaries’ needs have been met quickly with high-quality new equipment. Just in the 5-month window of October 2021 – Feb 2022, The Nest Project has gifted the community of Bath:

  • 17 highchairs
  • 35 cots
  • 30 stair gates and monitors
  • 3077 items of clothing
  • 341 toiletries
  • 33 pushchairs
  • 621 miscellaneous.
  • 350 Christmas boxes

Toddler groups:

The funding has made taking referrals, carrying out deliveries, and signposting users to services easier. The team now holds a regular toddler group in Twerton, which is at the heart of the community. It is a fun and safe place for parents to bring their children, offering free refreshments, homemade cake, crafts, and singing.

Having representatives in the community is now possible using the funding. A weekly representative joins another Toddler Group in Mulberry Park while a monthly representative is now present at the Oasis Food Pantry.

Supporting parents:

The team has seen the positive effect the group has had in building a support network and improving social and mental health, as well as making it easier to provide clothing and equipment for these families too. The Nest has been able to refer families to food pantries, domestic abuse charities, and other agencies across Bath such as The Future Bright Project, Maternity Voices, and Cook it classes. They have also been working with the Women’s Work Lab, offering work placements, and giving mothers a chance to get back into work.

The team has helped mothers who have previously had children taken into care. They have also assisted in delivering essential items to ensure their children are clean, healthy, and safe when returning home.  The Nest has also partnered with the Lotus Midwives in order to provide services and support for vulnerable mothers-to-be.

“In December, we had an emergency call from BANES for a family of 7 children who had been taken into Foster homes very suddenly. They had been split across a number of Foster families who weren’t all prepared for the emergency situation. The children were riddled with nits and bed bugs and came with nothing. We were able to provide each of the children with Christmas boxes, and bags of warm winter clothing, as well as stairgates and various equipment that the Foster families needed quickly before everything closed for Christmas. It was a truly heart breaking story, but we felt privileged to be able to provide these items on the day they were requested”.

 

“We had an emergency referral from the Children’s Team in BaNES, for a Mother arriving by train that afternoon with baby, having fled from a situation, arriving to an empty flat. Within half an hour we were able to prepare everything they needed – clothes, equipment, bedding, highchair, weaning items, books, play mat etc so she would have what she needed when she arrived”.

 

“We have four mums that regularly attend our Friday toddler group, who have all been in abusive relationships and have been helped by Voices. Here is a quote from one of those mums: ‘I love coming to The Nest Project group on Fridays. It’s a friendly, nice atmosphere, and the kids enjoy it. My daughter is a lockdown baby and hasn’t seen many people. It’s helping her get used to socialising as she was really anxious around other people before. It really helps me too, it gets me out socialising, I love meeting other new mums, and it helps my own mental health and my anxiety, having been in an abusive relationship. It’s the only toddler group we enjoy and feel comfortable going to. It makes my Friday so much better.’”

At St John’s we offer quality alms apartments based in the center of Bath and Combe Park, adjacent to the RUH. In total, we have 94 alms apartments, creating a community, which supports and empowers people to live independently.

We currently have both single and double occupancy vacancies.

Our accommodation supports older adults who are actively independent to continue to direct their own life, safe in the knowledge there is, if needed, support from neighbours and the wider community.

We are not to be confused with care homes or assisted living, because you are responsible for yourself, but you are just surrounded by similar people.

There is a wonderful social scene at St John’s, and you can be involved as much or as little as you wish.

If you wish to register your interest in an apartment, please email lynn.toman@stjohnsbath.org.uk or call 07725277145‬.

February 2020 saw the creation of St John’s Foundation Fund. This was developed with the specific aim of narrowing the Attainment Gap for Key Stage 2 children living in Bath and North East Somerset. Our organisation’s manifesto echoes this commitment, and we have been funding areas of focus that best support children aged 0 to 12 years old and their families.

Now, nearly two years on, we wanted to share an update of the work achieved by the Fund throughout 2021.

Early Years

Aim: to ensure all children in Bath and North East Somerset are ready to transition into primary school.

How we worked to achieve this aim:

Language for Life – In July 2021, St John’s Foundation collaborated with HCRG Care Group (formerly Virgin Care) and BaNES Council, to launch the Language for Life project. This project focuses on supporting pre-school children to reach their age-related expectations in communication and language development before they transition into primary school settings in Bath and Keynsham.

Language for Life offers a refreshed, area-specific early years approach to speech and language development. With the support of a newly appointed lead Speech and Language Therapist, Early Years practitioners are offered the opportunity to adopt the Wellcomm communications and language toolkit; an evidence-based assessment and intervention programme designed for use by Early Years practitioners with no additional specialist skills required.

Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Partnership (PEWP) – Initially funded by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the BaNES Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Partnership (PEWP) supports the mental health of mothers in the period immediately before and after the birth of their children. The PEWP brings together NHS midwives, HCRG Care health visitors, BaNES children’s centres and several local charities to support new mothers experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health needs, through a range of one-to-one and group-based interventions.

St John’s awarded match-funding alongside the CCG to fund three organisations to deliver services as part of the PEWP. These services were:

  • Bluebell Care – A structured, 11 week, therapeutic, group programme for mothers experiencing ante and post-natal depression and/or anxiety
  • Bright Start – Specialist, trauma-informed, one-to-one counselling
  • Open Space – Arts-based group psychotherapy sessions

Combined, these services support approximately 75 beneficiaries per year.

 

Nutritious Food

Aim: to ensure nutritious food is accessible to all families across Bath and North East Somerset

How we worked to achieve this aim:

Over £100,000 was awarded to projects that provide access to affordable food and wider support in our community. These included:

  • BaNES Council – funding for the role of Public Health Officer in relation to food insecurity.
  • BaNES Council – supporting the local authority to carry out bi-annual Health and Wellbeing Surveys across all local primary and secondary schools
  • FareShare SouthWest – supplying nutritious food to many affordable food projects run by charities across Bath and North East Somerset
  • Holiday Activities Fund – funding 11 small-scale summer holiday projects for disadvantaged children
  • Oasis Hub – start-up costs for a pantry project in Southdown, co-funded with Feeding Britain
  • Schools – grants to support breakfast club provision for schools accessing our Primary Empowerment Programme

 

Primary Empowerment Programme

Aim: To ensure all children across Bath and North East Somerset meet their educational age-related expectations for Key Stage 2

How we worked to achieve this aim:

During 2021, we engaged with the seven primary schools that have 40% of the most disadvantaged primary school children in BaNES to provide pupils with additional support with foundational reading, writing, oracy, and mathematics, as well as emotional support.

£820,841 was released to fund six delivery partners to support the seven schools under the strands of oracy; reading and writing; numeracy and emotional and behavioural support. The schools themselves have also received funding to directly support their reading and writing work.

The Primary Empowerment Schools are:

  • Castle Primary School, Keynsham
  • Roundhill Primary School, Southdown, Bath
  • St Keyna Primary School, Keynsham
  • St Martin’s Garden Primary School, Odd Down, Bath
  • St Mary’s School, Writhlington
  • St Michael’s Junior Church School, Twerton, Bath
  • Twerton Infants School, Twerton, Bath

The schools also received a further £7,000 each at the beginning of 2021 to support them through the pandemic. They were encouraged to use this funding to support activities the children would have otherwise missed out on. Uses of the funds included reading books, swimming lessons and a school dog.

What’s next?

Our next, and arguably most important phase, is to measure the impact that all these funded programmes are having. All delivery partners were selected due to their knowledge and expertise in the areas St John’s is aiming to address; however, time will tell how successful they will be.

To help us do this we have recruited educational experts ImpactEd to be our external evaluation partner.

We will be releasing a report at the end of 2022 to demonstrate the impact the Foundation Fund programmes are having on children’s lives,

Earlier today The Duchess of Cornwall visited Bath-based charity VOICES to learn how they work with survivors and overcomers of abuse on their journey of recovery.

The Duchess, Patron of local charity, St John’s Foundation since 2019, has been a long -term advocate for raising awareness of and preventing domestic abuse.

Her Royal Highness’s visit to VOICES was to witness the holistic, early help and recovery work they do with women and their families. The charity also provides a platform for the voices of those impacted by domestic abuse to influence policy and provision of services. VOICES was founded and is led by people with lived experience of domestic abuse.

Upon arrival, Her Royal Highness was met by Ms Ursula Lindenberg, Director of Voices, and St John’s Chief Exec, David Hobdey, and Director, Louise Harvey.  She was then introduced to key staff members of the charity, as well as the centre’s counsellors. The Duchess then sat down with a few of VOICE’s long-term clients to discuss their experience of the charity and how it had provided support for them.

Ursula, Director of Voices said “HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has been a staunch champion of the rights of women and girls to live free from abuse and violence. We are honoured by her visit and delighted to show her the work VOICES does to help people to recover and thrive, and to enable survivors to influence policy and improve support for others.”

Previously in March 2017, in conjunction with Boots UK, The Duchess of Cornwall launched the Wash Bag Project, a scheme that provides a wash bag of toiletries to people across the UK who have been affected by rape and sexual abuse. The wash bags are provided by Boots UK and are given to Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) clients who have undergone a forensic examination, providing them with some comfort at a difficult time.

More recently, in October 2021, Her Royal Highness spoke at a reception for the ‘Shameless! Festival’. During her speech, The Duchess said “This country has been appalled and saddened by the loss of women to violence this year… We do not, in any way, hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we do need them all on board to tackle it. After all, rapists are not born, they are constructed. And it takes an entire community – male and female – to dismantle the lies, words and actions that foster a culture in which sexual assault is seen as normal, and in which it shames the victim.”

Prior to her visit to Voices, The Duchess had visited Roundhill Primary School in Southdown in support of another project close to her heart – that of improving oracy and literacy in children. Touchingly, the children treated her to a rendition of a song written especially for her visit called  ‘We Are Proud of Our School’

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was greeted by hundreds of children waving flags when she arrived at Roundhill Primary School in Southdown earlier today.

The Duchess, Patron of local charity St John’s Foundation, is passionate about improving oracy and literacy in children – something which chimes well with St John’s own vision of building a community where every child from birth to 12 years old is supported to grow into a healthy, happy, and educated adult.

To help realise this vision, St John’s has teamed up with seven primary schools in BANES that have the highest proportions of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, to provide additional support with foundational reading, writing, oracy, and mathematics -as well as emotional support.  And the pupils at Roundhill were keen to show her just how much they were enjoying their new-found skills:

After being greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Mrs Annie Maw, The Duchess was then introduced to St John’s Chief Exec, David Hobdey, and Executive Director, Louise Harvey.  Roundhill’s Head Teacher Sue Adams then proudly led the party off on a tour of her school, taking in a variety of different year groups:

First up, The Duchess visited Sunbeam’s Early Years classroom where three-year-old pupils receive oracy support through ‘Language for Life’.  The Language for Life project supports pre-school children to reach their age-related expectations in communication and language development before moving on to their Reception Class.  The intervention came about through a collaboration between St John’s, HCRG, and BaNES Council.

CEO of St John’s Foundation, David Hobdey, said “it’s wonderful for me to see one of our initiatives in action and how engaged the young children are. These are such important life skills for children to have and we must do all we can to ensure no children, in BANES slip through the net”

Next, The Duchess oversaw the planting of a young Silver Birch tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, set up to honour her 70 years on the throne.  The initiative aims to increase and protect native tree cover UK-wide and the ten-year-olds in Roundhill’s Eco Team are already budding environmentalists in the making! The tree was donated by Bath and North East Somerset Council as part of their tree donation initiative with schools.

Ensuring The Duchess got a broad overview of the school’s activities, the next focus was on the school’s eight-to-ten-year-olds.  A small reading group were found in the Owl Reading Room, and, in the library, children were creating their own books.  A fruit smoothie-making class, followed by a White Rose Maths activities class brought the tour of the classrooms to a close.

Just before HRH unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit to the school, she was treated to a short performance of ‘We Are Proud of Our School’, a new song learned especially for the occasion, from pupils aged five to eleven.

Commenting on the visit, Sue Adams, said

“We are thrilled that The Duchess chose to visit us here at Roundhill and see what a wonderful school it is. The children here are at the heart of every decision we make to ensure that they are happy and confident and that the learning experiences provided are relevant to their needs both now and in the future.”

We are gathering a group of 20 dedicated staff members, friends, family members, and supporters to run the 2022 Bath Half. Our wonderful team will be raising money that will be spent on changing the lives of disadvantaged members of our community.

If you would like to join our team please get in touch at communications@stjohnsbath.org.uk 

The money we raise will go towards both our Foundation Fund and our Good Living Service. The money going towards the Foundation Fund will be spent on supporting disadvantaged children; bettering their education, supporting their emotional needs, ensuring they have safe places to go outside school, as well as nutricious meals to eat.

The donations that go to our Good Living service will support the health and wellbeing of older adults in Bath. We provide shelter for aging adults, as well as offering services to improve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, by offering a varied activities programme.

Not one person in our community has gone unscathed by the pandemic – some far more than others. The need for charity has been more crucial than ever, particularly for those already in need. The work St Johns delivers to support the community of Bath and North East Somerset is imperative and we are proud to have had a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

With your support, we can reach more people and have a greater impact. Please donate today.

 

For the best part of the last three years, St John’s Foundation has been working hard on restoring number 1 Queen Square to its former glory.

With work now complete, the building begins the next chapter of its life as the House of St John’s – a co-working space powered by social purpose. Run by the Charity’s Trading Subsidiary, its profits will be gifted to St John’s.

The House of St John’s is designed to be the place that your business can call home, the beautiful Grade 1 listed building now houses a variety of private offices, dedicated desks, meeting rooms and a fabulous event space. High-end fittings, ultra-fast broadband, and an attentive team of staff, complemented by a relaxing lounge and bar, make this the perfect place for the new hybrid working lifestyle.

With doors set to open January 2022, members will have the choice of:

Private offices – your space, tailored to your business’ needs

Dedicated desks – convenience of a personal desk, energy of a communal workspace

Co-working – hot-desking, the ultimate is flexibility

Lounge membership – the perfect option for those who want to make connections

Prestigious address – your business, our premium address

Informative as the website is, nothing beats seeing the ‘wow factor’ of seeing the building in person. Book your tour today on the House of St John’s website.

Hollie Markham, Head of Operations at the House of St John’s

In our role as charity partner, profits from memberships will be gifted to our Foundation Fund to help fund positive change within our community, specifically supporting disadvantaged children in Bath and North East Somerset.

The four key pillars of the Fund include providing nutritious food every day; a safe place outside of school; behavioural and emotional support and help in reading and writing, oracy, and mathematics. Addressing all these issues helps to make great inroads into lessening the educational attainment gap.

In July this year, St John’s Foundation collaborated with Virgin Care and Bath and North East Somerset Council, to launch the Language for Life project. The project focuses on supporting pre-school children to reach their age-related expectations in communication and language development before they transition into primary school settings in Bath and Keynsham. This type of targeted support is a key focus of St John’s Foundation Fund which aims to significantly reduce the educational attainment gap in B&NES by 2030.

Now, with one term complete, we are pleased to share an update on the project to date.

Term 1 very much focused on recruiting settings and providing training.

The initial priority was to invite 25 early-years settings who met the project criteria. Those invited included childminders, group-based settings, and school nursery classes, all of whom were committed to making a difference to the children and families they care for.

Once a place was accepted, practitioners from each setting attended the WellComm Toolkit training to learn how to implement language interventions and complete the ‘language screen’ (a language-based assessment to identify what level a child’s communication is). All shared that they felt confident with the techniques used and understood that term one would be very much an opportunity to put the training stage into practice, with skills further honed over term two.

Practitioners also had visits from the programme’s Speech and Language Therapist and began their first language screening. During the visits, the practitioners shared that the toolkit had helped them to recognise children who needed additional support, helping them to identify gaps in children’s communication and language development.

Even though term one is just the training stage of the project, positive impact is already being made with one practitioner saying:

“I am really enjoying the Language for Life project and I think all the training, resources and support you have organised are fantastic. So far, I have identified one child as being in the red zone, his parents are very engaged with the project, and I have made a referral for speech and language support. The parents have been given activities to do at home with the child from the Big Book of Ideas.”

The Language for Life programme also provides a unique opportunity for emerging or existing leaders in the early-years settings to take on the role of Communication Champions. In this role they receive further training, support, and guidance, whilst gaining two years leadership experience in delivering a project.

The purpose of this role is to act as a ‘champion’ for those children who may be vulnerable to underachieving due to a communication and language need.  The champion will then co-ordinate support to help them to reach their full potential, linking with the setting Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator where appropriate. Champions will also ensure the success of the project by co-ordinating and overseeing the implementation of it in their setting.

Term 2

Term 2 will see the start of regular visits to each setting from the Early Years’ Service. These visits will be to support the champions in their leadership role, consider how they will engage their families in the project and to help identify any vulnerable learners that might find accessing other services beneficial, in addition to the Speech and Language Therapy Service.

The early-years settings will also receive a further visit from the Speech and Language Therapist to support them with implementing their setting language interventions.

As the project continues to take shape, we will provide regular updates to our stakeholders. The next update will be at the end of term two.

St John’s Foundation is delighted to welcome the Elves’ Swapshop into one of our recently vacated buildings. This wonderful initiative aligns perfectly with our Foundation Fund that supports disadvantaged children aged from birth to 12-years-old living in Bath and North East Somerset.

Book your tickets here

The Bath BID and Share and Repair Bath have teamed up to bring an enchanting and environmentally minded Christmas to families in Bath.

From 26th November to 19th December, they are inviting children to visit the Elves’ Swapshop to St John’s vacated property, 5 Old Bond Street, where they have trained the Share and Repair volunteers to refurbish toys and give them a new, loving home.

Tickets are available for a workshop demo and a jolly singalong with the elves for children and their adults, with family tickets available for a maximum of three children.

Children are being welcomed along to see the fabulous Elf-O-Matic toy upcycler in action by bringing a toy to be gifted to another lucky child. With the help of Elf-O-Matic technology, the elves will make sure that each toy is safe and clean and ready for its new home. Everyone who brings in a toy can see the machine in action and will be invited to take home a toy of their choice.

The Elf-O-Matic machine was the brainchild of Allison Herbert, Chief Executive of the Bath BID, and was brought to life by theatre and festival set designer and maker, Vix Fuller. Over 85% of the machine was made from reused, recycled, upcycled and preloved materials, including Vix’s children’s former playhouse, a Perspex cog that was previously used at Glastonbury Festival, and doors from former Bath nightclub, Bath to Mine.

As well as meeting the elves and marveling at the Elf-O-Matic machine, children will have the opportunity to post their Christmas wishes into Father Christmas’ post box. Letters that include a stamped addressed envelope will receive a special Christmas greeting from Father Christmas.

The environmentally-minded Elf-O-Matic gives children a chance to put the ‘reuse, repurpose, recycle’ message into action as they swap used-for-used in a fun and festive way.

Allison Herbert, Chief Executive at the Bath BID, said: “Father Christmas’ elves work so hard every year to ensure children all over the world, and this year, we are keen to give them the recognition they deserve!

“We are delighted to be working with Share and Repair, who work hard in the community all year round to help people save money and help the planet.

“This is an exciting part of our work to bring people into the city over the Christmas period, helping to support Bath’s business community.”

Lorna Montgomery, Founder of Share and Repair, said: “This is the perfect extension of our vision and purpose to inspire and deliver more opportunities for extending the life of items – in this instance, toys. The idea and its implementation are inspirational, and we are delighted to partner with the Bath BID in its delivery. We’re looking forward to having lots of ‘green’ fun for children and adults!”

Vix Fuller said: “I was really excited to be given the chance to make the Elf-O-Matic toy upcycler, not only because it offered the chance to make something intriguing for children but also because I was able to create something that involved upcycling and reusing materials without buying new.

“I have repurposed many old or broken items in this project, including lots of my children’s old toys. Each day, the machine evolved depending on what I found to add. I hope children will be inspired by the Elf-O-Matic, and that the Elves’ Swapshop will show that a toy doesn’t need to be new to be special.”