A spa pool at St Martin’s Day Service, which had been closed for two years due to declining use, is back in action after Only Fools and Donkeys agreed to cover the running costs.
The charity has made a six year commitment to maintain and clean the pool using funds raised from its Mule Bretagne charity bike ride and money donated by Ravenscroft. It is also providing towels and robes for St Martin’s Day Service users and supplying four iPads to increase the opportunities for service users to learn how to use technology.
‘We have had a long relationship with the Friends of St Martin’s Day Service and when we heard the spa pool was not in use and how it was missed by the growing number of users at St Martin’s Day Service we wanted to offer our support. We have made a six year commitment to the Day Service which has enabled the pool to be put back into use easily and quickly,’ said Mike Marshall, who founded Only Fools and Donkeys with Ray Smart.
The centre is used by around 80 users aged from 19 – 68 who all have learning disabilities and the spa pool is used to enable water-based physical and sensory activities.
Treasurer of the Friends of St Martin’s Day Service Sue Aldwell said many of the users had complex needs.
‘Being in the spa pool enables the body to move in ways that aren’t usually possible allowing a feeling of weightlessness and freedom. As we all know, regardless of ability there is benefit from having time in the pool. For individuals with complex needs this is particularly important as well as fun,’ said Mrs Aldwell.
Mrs Aldwell established the Friends to give as many opportunities to the users of St Martin’s Day Service as possible.
‘When islanders with learning and physical disabilities are in full-time education, there is an enormous amount of support for them. I want to help increase the resources and services that are available when those individuals become adults. It is just as important to support those individuals after they turn 18 as it would have been when they were at school. In some respects, the resources need to be even greater and more focussed on being put to good use,’ she said.
At the centre, users learn how to cook and undertake basic skills and take part in arts and crafts, and exercise. They also go out to activities around the island and visit local events such as the West and North Shows.
Since the Friends was established four years ago, the Day Service have received several other donations from Only Fools and Donkeys.
‘The first thing they donated was a magnetic communication board, a camera and a printer so that we could have pictures of all the staff and service users as well as all the activities, which allowed the users to communicate and choose what they wanted to do. They then donated two large leather settees for the lounge as well as two electric reclining chairs so service users could get in and out without help and then replaced other pieces of furniture including the fridge freezer,’ said Mrs Aldwell.
‘Donations to children’s charities are enormously well supported. There are equally important and beneficial adult projects and I would encourage people to consider this when they are raising money or making a donation.’
A spokesperson for the Health and Social Services Department said the support from Only Fools and Donkeys and Ravenscroft would bring benefits.
‘On behalf of the Adult Disability Services staff and all of the service users who visit the centre and who will benefit from the enjoyment the pool will bring, I would like to thank Only Fools and Donkeys and Ravenscroft for their generous donation.
‘The service users’ needs and interests are at the very centre of the Adult Disability Service’s person-centred approach and we have ensured that opportunities for alternative physiotherapy activities have been made available.
‘Of course, the benefits of having the onsite pool in use again will be appreciated by everyone involved. Ease of access will ensure that enjoyment time can be maximised and the additional pleasure of water-based activity will be welcomed. There are numerous interesting and rewarding activities offered and available to everyone who goes to the centre and we are delighted the sensory benefits of the pool have been added to the options available within the centre itself again.’
Charlie Roger, Ravenscroft chief executive officer, Channel Islands, said that it is important to provide support to projects like the spa pool.
‘It is very humbling for us to be involved with Only Fools and Donkeys as we have been made aware of charities and organisations that are doing extraordinary work with very limited resources but dedicated volunteers. We hope that our sponsorship agreement with the charity will enable them to continue identifying worthy projects.’