After the past few years of not being able to connect as much as we had hoped with our community, we really wanted to come up with a week of exciting inclusive and engaging sessions, that reached a broader scope of our community than just our young people.
As a team we put our heads together and decided what activities and sessions would really be beneficial to support in a way that opens our doors to everyone. We researched that a national selfcare week runs from the 15-21st November 2021 and we thought how we could potentially link our ideas to reflect all types of selfcare to all ages.
Self-care is a huge part of mental and emotional health and not everyone has access to or knows how to give themselves any form of selfcare. Alongside this idea, we currently run a hygiene programme that enables us to issue any feminine and personal hygiene products at zero cost to young people and families. The programme has been running since 2019 after the Porch Project was awarded some funding through Suffolk Community Foundation and the Martineau fund and since then, it has attracted an overwhelming amount of donations from our local community. We wanted to combine the two ideas of selfcare and a hygiene programme, to produce our very own self care week.
To make it the most beneficial for all age groups, we ran a week long programme of sessions completely free of charge during October half term. We agreed some activities should be based at the Youth Centre to make the most out of our wonderful facilities and other sessions should be outdoors and trips. We pulled our contacts together and reached out to local business for any support they could offer and once all was confirmed we put together a timetable and shouted from the roof tops “Self-Care week is here!!”.
We kicked off with a drop-in session at our base on Hadleigh High Street on Monday afternoon. This is where our young people have access to our youth workers and facilities e.g. games room (board games, consoles etc), music room, films & TV, our chill out room, food, and soft drinks all available so they are able to come and relax with their friends or have a chat with our youth workers.
We finished the night off with a youth burger making evening with local street food vendor “Wagyu Burgers & Street Food”. They constructed their own burgers and learnt basic cooking skills, had social interaction, discussed setting up a small business and enjoyed having a hot meal.
We opened the Porch Project doors to the over 55’s and hosted a coffee morning with baked goods supplied by Fork, a local deli in Hadleigh. We welcomed anyone who felt lonely, wanted a chat and a hot drink or to simply just say hi. By doing this, we really reached a different aspect of our community and felt we made great new connections. We would absolutely hope to run this again if we could get a core group of volunteers to run these.
In the afternoon, we ventured outdoors for our “Walk & talk” comprising of 2 hours of fresh air, walking along the railway walk ( a local route in Hadleigh) with a group of young people and our youth workers. This gave the young people an opportunity to get outdoors, speak to each other and get support if they had anything to discuss. During these informal sessions, we really get the best out of the young people, we spoke about how important being outside is to help clear the mind and lots of topics came up about the importance of prioritising time for yourself.
Wednesday kicked off with a parent and baby drop in morning, we had arranged for local beautician Connie from “Just Beauts” to come in and provide a free file, polish or hand massage for any parent who needed a little bit of TLC. We welcomed in families with hot drinks, snacks, cakes, and they even left with a lovely goodie bag provided from our hygiene programme, along with a selection of pre-packed hot drinks and biscuits kindly supplied from Morrisons in Hadleigh. Again, this was the first time we have opened our doors to this specific group, which meant we could show them that we have baby changing facilities, offer them somewhere to feed their babies as well as advertising our baby hygiene products, available free of charge. It was so lovely to discuss the ups & downs of parenthood and meet some adorable little faces. This session was so successful, and we are hoping to run this again in the New Year.
Wednesday afternoon slowed down with a yoga & mindfulness session. We took an hour out of our day to zone out all the noise and chaos of our everyday lives and concentrate on centering our breath and silencing our mind. We learnt the importance of slowing down, stretching, and allowing our bodies to be still and quiet. We noticed that the young people were quite nervous to try the session, but afterwards said they felt it was very beneficial and they left feeling so much more relaxed.
Thursday brought us up to Ipswich Town football club’s community Trust, where we arranged for a group of young people to have a training session with the coaches. Upon arrival, we were very surprised to hear not only were they training, but would also have a tour of the stadium, be able to go into the VIP area in the stadium, go onto the side of the pitch, have a penalty shootout and a small match on the Astro turf! The young people were completely blown away by the afternoon and we had a bunch of incredibly excited children of varying ages who had just participated in a once in a lifetime invaluable experience. Walking away from the stadium we also found out, we have kindly been gifted free tickets to a match next year! We cannot thank Ipswich Town Football Club’s Community Trust enough for all their wonderful generosity.
And finally, to close our wonderful selfcare week, we had a gorgeous facial cleanse and massage evening. During this session, we spoke about specifically female hygiene and how to care for ourselves properly. We discussed using the right products for our skin type and body and how beneficial all these techniques are for getting the best version of yourself. We involved face masks, Chinese gua sha and lots of warm towels. We had hot chocolate and treats to accompany our chill out and we gave the young people a goodie bag filled with lots of wonderful items for them to take home and treat themselves with, again from our personal hygiene scheme.
We had an incredibly busy week at the Porch Project, as on the Friday of that week, we opened our doors to friends, families and the local community for them to showcase our facilities and meet the team.
Our selfcare week was so special and allowed us to really engage with our whole community which is exactly what we wanted to achieve and we are incredibly thankful to Suffolk Community Foundation and the Martineau Fund for the vital funds that allowed for this incredible week to go ahead!
Please head to our gallery page to see the photos which show what a fantastic week we had!