“None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them”

After commenting on a recent twitter post about his trip to Bendrigg in 1992 & 1993, we asked Mark to share his story!

 

“In the early 90’s I was a support worker, employed by an inner London borough, working in the community supporting a small group of brain injured people. The work was tough but fun, my colleagues and clients became lifelong friends. My boss Paul was a very dry-humoured Cumbrian, exiled to London, and one day he came up with the idea of a holiday at Bendrigg.”

I was utterly stunned by the setting

“Before long we were packing up the persistently unreliable minibus and making the journey up the motorway. I had never been to the Lake District before and I was utterly stunned by the setting, it was a far cry from the inner London estate we had come from. For one of our guys it was one of the first times he had ever been out of central London, it was a genuine culture shock. I remember his face as we surveyed the open spaces and huge sky.”

We did things that I did not think could be done

“Our care tasks remained the same whether we were in London or the Lakes. People needed support to wash, dress and eat etc but now we were adding activities such as canoeing, abseiling and caving to our days. We did things that I did not think could be done, people with very limited movement and even more limited opportunity, took on physical tasks that looked impossible. It was the Bendrigg staff that made the impossible possible, it was their knowledge, encouragement and belief that pushed us all, me and my colleagues included, to go beyond what we thought we could do. True bravery is wheeling yourself backwards off of an abseiling wall when you have never attempted anything like that before and you never thought you could do it; I saw that happen more than once.”

It was a week of working hard and playing hard

“I recall that the evenings were as much fun as the days. I was taught to fire-breathe, a trick I still wheel out from time to time, much to the amazement of my own children (and the horror of health and safety officers the world over); but my inability to learn how to juggle has persisted. The week flew by and, following a second visit by the nice man from the AA, we packed the van and hit the M6 South. We were all exhausted, but we had earn’t this tiredness, it was a week of working hard and playing hard. It was so hard that we booked for the following year and did it all again (as did the nice man from the AA).”

None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them

“It is more than quarter of a century since I last visited Bendrigg Lodge, I see from photographs that the centre has expanded but has remained true to its aims of inclusion and pushing boundaries and expectations. None of us know our limits until we are allowed to test them, many of us are hesitant, needing the support of trusted people to enable us to go one step further. Bendrigg did that for my clients, my colleagues and me. In the intervening years I am sorry to say that three of my four clients and two of my five colleagues have now passed away, some of my happiest memories of them all are of being on the wind-swept hillsides or lakes near Bendrigg. I still work with people affected by brain injury.”

They taught me to see ability

“My visits to Bendrigg were amongst the hardest working weeks I have ever had but they remain the most memorable too. They taught me to see ability, they showed me what it means to work in a team and they formed a lifelong love of the outdoors. I am a city-boy but I relax by spending time in the hills. I am certain that Bendrigg has had an impact on thousands of people in a similar way and I look forward to seeing it continue to thrive and give life-changing opportunities to many.”

 

Do you have a Bendrigg Story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! 

Make plans today, and you’ll be solid tomorrow

What People with Disabilities Need to Know About Planning for Their Financial Future – by Ed Carter

Practical self-care is something that many people with all kinds of disabilities can strive toward if they are smart about their finances. Not only can having a disability reduce your earning potential as you age, it can also increase the amount of money you’ll need to spend on medical, nursing, and custodial care. Here are some things you need to know about planning for your financial future.

Income vs. expenses

First things first: Get a handle on your budgeting (present and future). It may sound reductive to boil it all down to money in and money out, but that’s a good place to start. Knowing how much your disability costs you can help you better plan for how to fill in the financial gaps. On average, people with disabilities spend £583 more per month than their non-disabled peers.

Income includes money made through employment, government benefits, disability benefits, pensions, investment payouts, etc. Expenses are tougher to calculate because they can change rapidly — especially in terms of medical needs. It is your task to anticipate — as much as you can — your future care needs. Will you eventually need in-home nursing care? Perhaps a wheelchair? Maybe surgeries? It could be something as simple as hearing aids. Find out what your insurance will cover and then figure out ways to supplement your income.

Know your supplemental income options

Your first step is to look at your Personal Independence Payments, which range from £23.20 to £148.85 per week. Other options include adding riders to your life insurance policy, purchasing supplemental long-term care insurance, and opening a savings account to offset medical expenses. You will also want to start saving with the sole purpose of using said funds for later life care. These should be a savings funds separate from your other savings accounts, like your emergency fund for instance.

Downsizing is an option

Downsizing is an option that many with disabilities consider when they begin to approach their golden years. By moving into a smaller home and paring down your many possessions, you can not only save on your monthly mortgage, utilities, and all other home-related expenses, you will also make your daily life less stressful and put less strain on your body.

Choosing to downsize can be an emotional experience, even if it helps you stay independent as you age. If you experience sadness and trepidation, know that it’s completely normal and you can cope with it.

You need to have “The Conversation”

What conversation? The Conversation — the one you may be putting off because it’s uncomfortable or you feel you’re burdening your family. It’s the one where you make known, in no uncertain terms, your choices about your own care. There may come a time when your health care and finances need attending to and you are unable to do it on your own, so your family must be 100 percent certain of your desires.

One final word about planning for your financial future: Do what you can now to minimize your financial burden later. Many things about your disability are out of your control, but eating right, staying fit, and keeping your stress levels and mental health in check are not. Remember that your financial future is only as insecure as you allow it to be now. Make plans today, and you’ll be solid tomorrow.

 

Guest Blog written for The Bendrigg Trust by Ed Carter of AbleFutures.org

Ed is a retired financial planner and has created the Able Futures website to provide helpful financial information to members of the disabled community.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

 

Royal Visit

We are very excited to announce that we will welcoming Her Royal Highness the Countess Of Wessex at Bendrigg Trust on Wednesday 6th February 2019.
Her Royal Highness will be launching an exciting new (and secret for now!) project and will be meeting some of our residential groups. Watch this space for more details coming soon…

18/02/19 Update : After our wonderful visit from the Countess of Wessex, we are delighted to announce that she launched our Adventure For All Project Funded by the ScottishPower Foundation! Read more about this very exciting project.

A boost for Bendrigg

A group of plucky Playdale staff members, collectively known as the Playdale Paddlers, undertook a kayaking challenge back in July this year. Their challenge (that they chose to accept!) was to kayak the 11-mile length of Lake Windermere all in aid of Bendrigg Trust. Despite incessant rain on challenge day from beginning to end, the Paddlers not only completed the course but completely smashed their target time! They paddled the 11 miles in just three hours & twenty minutes, a truly fantastic achievement!

Recently, Bendrigg Fundraising Officer Sarah went to Playdale HQ to be presented with a cheque for the total amount raised – a phenomenal £1,428.86! You can read more about this here or for the full round up of the challenge day itself (including a wonderful video!) click here.

A tale of Bendy Pot

At Bendrigg we see the impact that a high-quality residential has on our clients every day. People discover what is truly within them – what depths of character, what powers of determination, what sense of joy. It is no exaggeration to say that for many visitors, a stay at Bendrigg can prove to be a life-changing experience for both participants and volunteers/carers/teachers alike! ‘When Joel got the Bends’ is a wonderful case study from Birmingham Phab Camps volunteer James about the importance of  perceptions and ultimately believing in yourself and others. Read the full story here.

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IMG_1355 Joel

Fundraising & Marketing Officer vacancy

Bendrigg Trust are looking for maternity cover for our Fundraising and Marketing Officer on a full time contract, although part time hours will be considered. The successful candidate will have experience working in the voluntary sector and the ability to successfully manage a varied workload whilst working under pressure to meet deadlines.
We expect the contract to commence on Monday 13th November for 7 months but length will be dependent on maternity cover required.
A full job description can be downloaded from the ‘Downloads’ page of our website.

For an application pack please email nick@bendrigg.org.uk

Maternity Cover
Salary: £25,000pa (pro-rata for part time)
Closing date: 5pm Friday 29th September
Interview date: Monday 9th October
Anticipated start date: Monday 13th November

White Stuff Charity Champs raise £15,000 for Bendrigg

For the original article by Holly Watson for the Kendal Chronicle please click here.

Local Kendal shop receives Major Donor Gold Award for contributions towards Bendrigg Trust

White Stuff is a well-known brand worldwide, but back in April 2014 they brought the big-name brand to the little market town of Kendal. Since the opening nearly three years ago, it has gained immense popularity amongst the locals and those a bit further afield, becoming a staple shop for the fashion-conscious residents of the Lake District.

But the shop prides itself on more than selling clothes – it is a big part of the Kendal community. The White Stuff brand builds long-term relationships with local charities all over the country through their Foundation, linking every shop with a charity and supporting them by giving funds, time and material support.

When deciding on Kendal’s charity partner, White Stuff even got Kendal residents involved with the decision, asking people to vote on who the shop’s charity should be back in March 2014. An overwhelming 86% of the vote went to Bendrigg Trust – a local charity providing adventure activities for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages.

As part of their pledge, the White Stuff Foundation also matches any money raised by the shop for the charity, doubling each donation that Bendrigg receives. This has meant that, since the opening of the shop nearly three years ago, White Stuff Kendal have raised an incredible £15,000 for the charity, earning them the ‘Major Donor Gold Award’ for their contributions.

White Stuff regular Dawn Kirkpatrick, of Beast Banks, praised the shop for their work with the trust:

“I think it’s great how much the staff do for charity, and more shops should be doing it! It’s just another incentive for me to shop here.”

Julie Bond, 28, agrees:

“It’s lovely to see such a recognised brand helping make such a big difference to a small local charity – even the 5p carrier bag charge doesn’t go to the company, it goes direct to the charity!”

The Kendal management team regularly send out staff to the charity’s base in Old Hutton, most recently to help with the development of Acorn House, a completely accessible accommodation unit on their site at Bendrigg Lodge, which you can read about here.

But the team does much more than just helping out around the Lodge; they regularly hold fundraisers instore and even embark on challenging tasks in order to raise money for the charity.

Last summer on behalf of White Stuff, vet student Phil McKean completed the gruelling ‘Total Warrior’ course raising funds for Bendrigg, while other staff from the shop supported him and the charity by marshalling the race.

Phil said about the experience:

“It was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding. I managed to raise £263 for Bendrigg, and I couldn’t have done it without the help from the staff at White Stuff”.

The staff themselves have also braced the adventurous side of fundraising, with two of the shops product advisors, Sarah and Sam, completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge back in October 2015, raising an amazing £455. This was then matched by the Foundation, bringing the total to £910.

Manager Emma also ran across 10 of the Lake District’s highest peaks in just 24 hours back in June 2014:

“I travelled over 73km, crossing mountains, streams and bogs, ran in the dark and made it back by 1am! The route covered 5,600m of ascent and included climbing Helvellyn, Scafell and Skiddaw to name just a dfew of the peaks. It was incredible challenging. My poor body!”

Despite the difficulty of the challenge, she says, “it was definitely worth it though – Bendrigg is a fantastic charity who are dedicated to every individual who goes there. They are a very inspirational charity and I feel privileged to be helping raise funds for such a worthy cause.”

Emma managed to raise £442 for Bendrigg, nearly double her target.

Not all the staff at the Kendal shop are able to go to such lengths for charity but they still contribute as often as they can – whether it’s the Cross Bay Walk, knitting a quilt or volunteering at the Lodge.

Bendrigg’s Fundraising and Marketing Officer Sarah Garman told me how much the Trust appreciates White Stuff’s work and support: “White Stuff have raised over £14,500 since starting to support us, and this has had a huge impact on Bendrigg. The funds go towards our core costs which are often the hardest costs to fundraise for. This can include heating, lighting, replacement of equipment, staff costs and so on.

“On average this has meant that donations from White Stuff annually have been around £4,500 – this is around 5% of our annual core cost required – an amazing amount!

“White Stuff are one of just a few corporate partners who support us, but by far donate the most to Bendrigg.”

The Kendal store’s Deputy Manager Joanne Addison says,

“the next step is to to improve on our Donor Gold Award. The one we currently have is for making between £10,001 and £25,000, so the next step would be to reach the Platinum Award of £25,000 and over, which we are most certainly keen to do.”

And with the incredible amount they’ve managed to raise already, it seems like they’ll make it!

How outdoor learning benefits people with disabilities

Ask any adult what their fondest memory of school is and most will come back with an exciting story about a residential trip; how they explored, played, took risks, tried new things and made new friends. At the time, you don’t realise how these experiences shape who you become later in life.

The Government are committed to making such opportunities available to everyone, no matter their background, ability or needs. In their recent white paper ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’, the Department for Education outlined the need for every child to have experiences that equip them with “the knowledge, skills, values, character traits and experiences that will help them to navigate a rapidly changing world with confidence”.

High-quality residentials play an important part in this aim with impacts being seen immediately. The research project, Learning Away, demonstrated the impact that residential learning can have on learner engagement, achievement and relationships. They found that “a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits/impacts that cannot be achieved in any other educational context”. These traits not only open doors to employment and social opportunities but underpin academic success, happiness and wellbeing.

It can be argued that these benefits are even more profound and life-changing for the 0.9million children (7%) in the UK who are disabled. High-quality residentials provide “opportunities for students with disabilities to be engaged in physical activities” which is greatly needed as 86% of families with disabled children go without leisure activities. Add to this the fact that 65% of families caring for disabled children report feeling isolated frequently or all of the time and the need for truly inclusive outdoor provision is clear.

Inspiration through adventure

“George” (a pseudonym) was one such student for whom a brilliant residential had a profoundly positive benefit. Therry, a teacher who frequently brought students on residential courses to Bendrigg Trust, tells his story:

The youngest student we ever had with the team was an 8 year old young man, George, with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and profound visual and auditory impairments. This was to be his first time away from his family and home. He blossomed with his responses and became so smiley and noisy (to the degree of cheeky!) showing us there were ways around, through and over the barriers we previously had believed to be there in the school environment.

Once free of his wheelchair and secure in his climbing gear, George felt his way carefully up the climbing wall requiring minimal support from Bendrigg staff but making his own choices, as his fingers and feet found bumps, hollows and things to push and pull on. He was able to fly along the zip wire with happy howls of delight and his eyes, which we understood to provide him with no vision, sparkled. We know that Bendrigg worked its magic in ways no one could have imagined and we are so grateful that George was able to have this experience. I wish it was possible to bottle this ‘Bendrigg magic’ from start to finish so everyone could see, and truly believe what each individual can achieve.

“George” may be a made-up name but his story is real.

Bendrigg Trust believes in the impact that high-quality residential courses can have for young people with a disability; combining activities that they never dreamt possible with a welcoming and inclusive home-from-home. From learning to make your own bed to taking your first journey in a canoe, Bendrigg believes in giving young people skills for life, an increased motivation and appetite for learning and broadening horizons, often opening up a whole new world of opportunity.

 

Do you have a story about the impact outdoor learning? Comment below and let us know!