We are bringing the garden indoors with wildlife specialists on live digital workshops

Our latest development is to bring the average household garden online with a range of wildlife specialists lending a hand to share their knowledge about everything from bats to creepy crawlies. The challenge of keeping our live video workshop content fresh and interesting is always at the forefront of our minds and member of team Phil Redrup is bringing themed garden weeks to benefit those we support with Young Onset Dementia.

Joining the charity over the six weeks of this live video workshop will be Bridget Parslow, Licenced Bat Worker from Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire Bat Group, talking about Bats and Creatures of the Night and Niki McCann, Education Officer at Waltham Place, Organic and Biodynamic Farm near Maidenhead, talking about Moths and Leaf-cutter bees.

In taking part in this unique set of workshops Bridget says “I am well aware of the need for all of us to keep our brains active and I am delighted to be able to take part in this programme and to introduce a new audience to the wildlife I love, bats. Bats are amongst the most highly protected species in the UK and I hold licences to survey bats in the wild, to visit properties to advise householders (Volunteer Bat Roost Visitors Licence) and to keep live bats.” 

Overseeing the sessions over the six weeks is Phil Redrup, a member of the charity’s team that brought this together. Phil explains how he came up with the idea and why: “During lockdown whilst tending the garden I started to notice the small things around me, at first the ants tending to the aphids on my plants and looking closer there were other insects that were feeding on them, one thing led to another and I started to research them as I don’t like using chemicals to control pests in my garden, I noticed that left to its own nature does it for you. I wondered how many people really appreciate what is around and beneath their own feet, as in this fast paced world very few are aware what live with and beside us, so I hatched a plan and put together this workshop.”

Niki from Waltham Place goes on to say of her involvement that “We hope to encourage others to engage with wildlife, to better understand what lives in our gardens and around us, and to care about the long term impacts our actions have for the environment as a whole.”

Maintaining engagement and dialogue has been the charity’s focus since late March as isolation leads to additional mental health problems.  Previous to this the charity delivered physical, face to face workshops in venues across Berkshire giving almost 80 people with Young Onset Dementia the chance to maintain their skills and share their time with others going through a similar, life-changing event across the working week. Moving online hasn’t been easy, however live video workshops began in April, along with calls to carers, activity boxes and pre-recorded videos on YouTube all of which have helped to keep those with Young Onset Dementia connected to the familiar faces of the charity and one another. 

And the pioneering spirit to provide meaningful, engaging and age-appropriate live video continues with a reading workshop, wellbeing, massage and exercise workshops all on the way.

As one of the charity’s carers said in a recent survey: “Excellent adaptation to the changes that Covid-19 have forced upon us all. We have appreciated the contact phone calls on a weekly basis together with regular emails making sure we are aware of services available. My partner has benefited from the well thought out activity packs and zoom meetings where she can interact with the charming staff and fellow members.”