Wednesday 16th September is the first day of our new virtual BBO Strive & Healthy Hub, supporting local people to create CVs, get advice on finding work, accessing mentoring and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Open from 10am to 1pm, the hub is accessible initially by appointment only, using the contact details listed in the poster. The hub will regularly feature events and talks from other community organisations and from the 9th October, a 5 week live cookery demonstration of creating tasty, healthy dishes.
We are delighted to announce that the wonderful ASCEND Isolation Blanket is currently on display at The Marlowes Shopping Centre in Hemel Hempstead until 31st August. We very much hope that it will be inspiring and thought provoking for everyone that sees it. The blanket will then hopefully be on view at Watford Museum during November (dates to be confirmed) and at Watersmeet, Rickmansworth in December. For more information about the Blanket Project and to watch the accompanying video, please click on the link at the top of this page.
ASCEND continues to offer the local community some fantastic course in partnership with HAFLS. These include basic skills, Maths, English and IT as well as employability and arts based courses. At the present time, our courses are being delivered remotely by Zoom and Google Classroom due to the Covid-19 pandemic but we are regularly reviewing the situation and we hope to run some sessions face to face, in line with Government advice on social distancing. For further details and to book, please ring Jane on 07483 104910.
ASCEND today launched its “reCoVer 19” appeal, in order to raise funds to support the increasing demand for our services due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ASCEND has been working within South Oxhey, Watford, Three Rivers and adjoining areas for nearly 24 years, supporting those furthest from the employment market to move forward in their lives. As the UK comes out of lock-down, ASCEND is preparing for a big demand in its back to work, training and well-being services. Commenting on the appeal, CEO Christine Wyard said, “ASCEND has a policy of never turning anyone away. If for some reason, we cannot directly help, or a client needs multiple areas of support, we have a wide partnership network of organisations that we can refer to, some of which are based at our Step Up well-being hub. Our appeal is all about supporting community members when they most need it and we very much hope that people will consider a donation, either via text or our website, so we can help as many members of the community as we can in these difficult times.”
Under the guidance of inspirational tutors Sian Fenwick and Ekky Archibong, over 40 ASCEND learners are currently crafting pieces to reflect what self-isolation means to them, using media such as stitching, journaling and painting/drawing. The completed pieces will be attached to the blanket to create a community piece, but with a border to represent self-isolation. ASCEND’s jewellery group will be making wire jewellery bridges to join the pieces to signify communication. It was decided to create a community blanket because of the meanings of comfort, warmth and soothing associated with blankets. In addition, a film will be made of the blanket project and the process of creating the individual pieces, and will be displayed, together with the blanket virtually during the Summer and when permissible on tour around Hertfordshire.
As we all submit to the changes in our lifestyles, it is even more apparent that we need to keep connected and support one another during this pandemic. Staff at ASCEND are doing their part to support our learners through this situation as we are aware that many people will be feeling stressed and anxious.
ASCEND’s jewellery courses have been popular over the years, not only through the development of skills and techniques, but also because of the impact it has on well-being and isolation. Our learners have become friends, sharing and exchanging ideas; and sometimes even attending external craft fairs and events together.
Ekky Archibong tutors this class. As an artist, creative entrepreneur and tutor for our jewellery classes, she is a strong advocate for creativity as a pathway to well-being. This is why she is currently working with ASCEND to ensure that we continue to support our learners with free online jewellery projects and networking with one another, until we are able to get back face to face again.
So yesterday (Thursday 26th March 2020) our jewellery class met up virtually to look at Bangle Making using Mandrel, Hammers and Anvils. A ring or bangle mandrel is a large, tapered tool made from steel or wood. It is used to form and shape metals and also for creating wire wrapped rings and bangles. They also looked at anvils and bench blocks and how to use them to provide a secure work surface for cutting, drilling, filing and hammering/shaping metal. Their challenge is to design a Bangle using 1.0mm or 1.2mm jewellery wire and we will be creating a Facebook gallery of all their efforts.
In the meantime, if you are interested in the sort of jewellery our group are making, you might like to visit the following… https://youtu.be/yMI-xVd06Go or https://youtu.be/-yfxx9itQyk to see examples of what can be done.
ASCEND is complying with Government Guidelines in respect of the Covid-19 outbreak. All students and visitors to ASCEND are asked to adhere to the guidelines contained in the enclosed picture. Thank you.
Our Step Up Cafe has been running for 4 months now. The whole idea behind the café is to bring those together, who are mainly over 50, to help combat loneliness in South Oxhey, particularly at the weekends when loneliness can be at its worst. Here is what some of our visitors have been saying:-
“I don’t do anything so I’d be out shopping or at home, but wouldn’t be talking to people. It’s a safe place to meet people.”
“It’s company, friendship, you get to know people. I looked forward to coming today.”
“I get to interact with people, otherwise I’d be at home bored.”
“I feel very relaxed, brings everyone in community together, gets me away from my household.”
“It’s company, I have a laugh, it’s very enjoyable, a chance to do different activities, there’s a good variety.”
“It’s enjoyable meeting people, and gets me out of the house, gives me confidence.”
“It means a lot, I just like all the company. We all have a laugh here.”
Our next cafe is on Saturday 14 March from 2pm to 4pm, when there will be a bonus talk at 3pm given by Andrew Scarth about bees and honey – which we no doubt will be able to sample with a scone.
We were delighted to welcome five volunteers from Three Rivers District Council including Cllr Alison Scarth to Step UP this morning. They had a bright sunny day to clear away the moss at the side of our building and prepared the soil at the front of the building for sowing wild flowers and poppies as part of the many things we are doing for Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 (HYOC 2020). They have done a brilliant job and we hope to utilize the cleared space for lots of activities this year.
Three Rivers helps clean-up ASCEND Step Up grounds (TRDC News Release)
ASCEND Step UP outside area that leads into the woods and the border at the front of the building have been ridden with thick moss and weeds.
Cllr Alison Scarth and Three Rivers staff volunteered their services to clear these areas and make them ready for use on 6 February 2020 as part of Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 (HYOC2020) whose theme for February is skill development and volunteering.
Liz Fraser, Facilities Manager for ASCEND Step Up, said: “ This is a great initiative that has helped in enhancing the look and feel of the building, providing us with future space that we can utilise in a variety of ways. I am delighted that Three Rivers District Council has taken such an interest in supporting ASCEND as a charity.
“Cllrs Andrew and Alison Scarth have consistently taken a keen interest in the work of ASCEND and been proactive in helping us in a time of need. I thank everyone involved for dedicating their time and efforts to help us today. You have all done a marvellous job, I can’t believe the change it has made and the benefits to ASCEND in utilising the space in front of and at the side of the building.”
The front of the building is now ready to plant wildflowers and poppies in time for celebrating 75 years VE Day. Plans are being made for the other larger area cleared to be used for extra staff parking and other uses.
Cllr Alison Scarth added: “We want to support our communities in any way we can. To keep doing this we need our businesses, residents and schools across Three Rivers District to get involved. From clearing litter to helping clean-up areas for better use or just a general tidy-up. Let’s sustain this work by taking a proactive interest in keeping our environment tidy and clean.”