Recently, I went on one of the best holidays of my life. No it wasn’t the jungles of Thailand or India. Nor was it the sprawling cities of New York or Berlin. It was Bewdley just outside of Kidderminster. Actually, it was just outside of Bewdley, just outside of Kidderminster. While it is not the most well-known or sought after destinations, Frank Chapman Centre hosted two groups of Sense holidaymakers, volunteers and leaders for a week of fun, friendship and adventure!
It was a cold Saturday morning when Emily Forman (Intervenor Service Manager) and I met up to prepare for our long journey from London to Bewdley. We were leading a Sense holiday together and while Emily led one last year, this was my first. Needless to say, the nerves were present. We had great support from the Sense Holidays and Short Breaks team and a good understanding of the volunteers and holidaymakers we had on the holiday. But spending a week away with people you don’t know is nerve-wracking for anyone.
We arrived at the venue and met our rag tag group of volunteers. Every single one of them bright-eyed and eager to meet the holidaymakers. Thankfully the wait was not long. The holidaymakers arrived soon enough and the handovers with the family members were frantic but thorough. It felt like we fit a month’s worth of social interactions into a couple of hours. One the families were gone, the delicate process of settling everyone in and socialising began. As there were two Sense holidays on site, there are more people to get to know but it didn’t take long for everyone to feel comfortable.
The first two days were the hardest. Martyn, one of the seasoned holiday volunteers, agreed but assured me that they always are. But, everyone seemed to be having fun. On the first evening we all roasted marshmallows over a campfire and the next day, the activities began! The week was action-packed with rock climbing, high ropes, mountain biking, bread baking and lots more. Everyone pushed themselves out of their comfort zones in one way or another.
The Frank Chapman Centre wasn’t designed for people who are deafblind or have complex disabilities. The building was slightly outdated but it was balanced out by the attitude of the staff there. All of the holidaymakers approached each activity in a unique way which would be challenging for most staff. Thankfully all the staff at Frank Chapmen was flexible and intuitive to the holiday maker’s needs and wishes.
Now reading back over this blog post, I am aware that I have talked a lot about myself, the volunteers and the centre, and not much about the holidaymakers. George, one of the holidaymakers, decided to record a vlog to share what he thought about the holiday. Take it away George…
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Full transcript of the video:
Hello! My name is George.
Now, here, Sense Holiday,
Frank Champman Centre
I like climbing best,
dark with head torch on
I was nervous, it was a bit dangerous
but it was OK
Climbing trees, swimming, playing football
basketball, seeing chickens, cute!
The group showed the holidaymakers
how to climb, abseiling was quick
we kept crashing into each other,
funny, funny, happy, happy, happy – good!
food, eating sandwiches
I didn’t like it
It was raining lots on Saturday
climbing was easy
I was nervous when I was climbing
G did really well, great, thank you!
What I like eating, is chicken
I love holidays!
Shaanvir: Well that was an easy vlog!
thank you, bye!