A year in the life of The DCF
Accessible for All
Gemma Cardona was officially taken on as Accessible for All activity coordinator, her first task was to organise activities for the Easter holidays. The two-week break was jam packed with activities available every day. We tried out two new activities for us, inclusive cycling with Pedall New Forest and accessible tennis with Southbourne Tennis Club.
Gemma took a short course in Sensory Story Massage and was able to deliver the first of these sessions.
We were supported at each of our events by The Marsham Court Hotel who gave out gifts and easter eggs to all the people who attended, and they also entertained the children as the Easter Bunny.
Asda did an Easter egg collection for us too.
Rhian took part in adaptive surf training and is now able to assist with adaptive surf therapy sessions which we hope some of our children will be able to access through other local organisations.
Policies and Procedures
In April we also reviewed our Safeguarding policies to ensure they meet the needs of our charity.
Work to clear our warehouse took a lot of time as we had to sort through several rooms of stock and equipment. Lots of volunteers and staff put in extra hours to help get this done. We were able to distribute most of our stock amongst our three stores and any clean and appropriate items were taken to the Help for Ukraine center in Bournemouth.
All three shops performed well in April with our new manager Dany in our Southbourne store doubling profits within the first 3 weeks.
We continue to work with Total Children’s Therapy Service who have developed a triage session to see what therapy is best suited and when. It has enabled us to have a better understanding of the families we are sending over along with if the help they are requesting is appropriate for the perceived timeframe.
With the success of our Little Stars Under 5’s group, it was agreed that Nicola, who runs the session, would be formally employed on a part-time basis.
Accessible for All
The Accessible for All events were improved with the purchase of a gazebo, hoist and changing platform for those that need it. Permission was granted from the local parks department, so we can now set this up at some of our outdoor events.
With the cost-of-living crisis affecting most of our families, our trustee Dan Mcevoy was interviewed on national TV, and featured in many national newspapers highlighting the struggle for families paying extortionate energy bills that come with having to run essential equipment at home. Letters were also delivered to The Prime Minister.
Give Kids The World
In May we were delighted to be able to send Pola and her family to Florida with Give Kids the World.
Pola is profoundly disabled through meningitis but despite everything this trip bought joy to both her and her loving family.
Accessible for All
Half term activities were held at various venues across Dorset and included a Jubilee Themed Craft Day and a day at Slades Park.
Our Saturday club also held a Jubilee Craft Day and made painted bunting that was then displayed in all three of our shops.
As part of our Accessible for All program we organised a very special residential stay to Avon Tyrrell, a local outdoor activity centre. Ten families with young people with complex physical and medical needs tried canoeing, high ropes, and the zip wire! We rented a lodge that had space for 7 wheelchair users with their carers to stay (3 more families joined us during the day).
As we wanted this to be a chance for family groups to come together and make lasting memories, we also had our own camping field adjacent to the lodge where the Dads and siblings set up camp. It was so lovely to see the siblings, who are young carers themselves, having fun together, knowing that their brothers and sisters all have similar conditions, they all relaxed and felt completely at ease with each other and formed lasting friendships.
Happy First birthday to The Treehouse
Our dedicated children’s shop celebrated its first year of trading. The Treehouse has grown from strength to strength since its opening in June last year and it’s helped us really engaged with our local community and parents who use the place to both shop and to meet other parents at our regular story reading and play sessions held there.
Many of the staff and volunteers are the parent/carers of the children we support and are always on hand to befriend and advise parents who come into the shop.
We are delighted to say that The Treehouse has raised over £50,000 (well beyond our expectations) and every single penny of this has been spent directly on the children we support.
First Position School of Dance raised an incredible £10,000 through donating 100% of their ticket sales for their annual show to us.
We presented the beach wheelchair to our friends at the Marsham Court Hotel and in conjunction with the Steve Barnard Foundation we purchased a custom made, fully adapted surfboard for Wild and Free adapted surfing, at a cost of £2500 each.
This month there were several successful events including an evening with top D’J’s at local venue Chaplin’s, and a golf tournament and charity auction held at Meyrick Park Golf Club. The gold day was attended by valued volunteers Jenny & Malcolm Jeffries of Bournemouth Rotary Club who asked if they would become Patrons of the Foundation and happily, they agreed.
Our former Chair of Trustees Conor Mullen raised an outstanding £6000 for us as he got together a team of his employees who trekked miles over the Purbecks wearing our Dorsey Bear outfit while also pushing a fully laden wheelchair.
Bourne Free Pride Events
Once again, we were asked to be charity partners for Bourne Free pride festival and were able to attend the two day festival with two sensory tents so that those with disabilities had a quiet space in the shade to retreat to. We also provided free sensory gift bags and ran a fundraising tombola. We worked closely with Bourne Free’s trustees and because of our discussions they provided a Mobiloo changing facility for those in our community who cannot use typical toilets.
Accessible for All
On top of organising our regular monthly soft play and skate sessions Gemma worked hard behind the scenes putting together an extensive program for the summer holidays which includes two separate wet wheels events. Programs and booking forms were sent out to all our families.
Accessible for All
We had an incredible august with our accessible for all program and were able to provide 12 days of activities, accommodating over 400 children and their parents/carers across the summer. Highlights were our Pirate boat trips where two fully accessible boats sailed side by side around Poole harbour while the children dressed as pirates and battled with water pistols across the water and our inclusive cycling sessions in the New Forest.
We had our largest fundraising event of the year The Dorset Plane Pull and were supported by 3 teams of pullers this year who raised a massive £9,776 which will be used to put on even more accessible for all activities over the year.
One of our ambassadors, boxer Chris Billam- Smith won against a home crowd & donated the sales of all prefight merchandise to us.
Equipment The last of our 10 We-Go push chairs was delivered to a very happy family. The beach wheelchair we’d purchased was loaned out to The Marsham Court Hotel with the agreement that our families can access it if they would like to, and 2 Delichon Delta off road wheelchairs were given to two young boys so they could both enjoy the great outdoors.
New support for our families
We launched our two new roles and introduced Rhian Wooten as Parent Liaison and Line Grieve as Befriending Coordinator to our early year’s groups. Both Rhian and Line have experience as parent carers to their own disabled children and their combined knowledge and professionalism we’re sure will make them real assets and great additions to the DCF team.
September saw a change in our counselling service as Rebecca Leddington took over as the head of our counselling service. Rebecca is well known to the DCF and has volunteered at our little stars group since it started. She has years of experience running her own counselling practice for both adults and children and her personal and professional experience makes her the perfect choice to replace Hayley who has moved on but will be sadly missed.
We were blown away with our child ambassador, Adam Sevenoaks who at just 15 years old and living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a severe degenerative muscle wasting disease) decided to challenge himself to complete 1000 taekwondo punches using his new ‘Neater’ arm supports (part funded by DCF). Adam is an incredible inspiration as he participates in so many sports and has achieved his black belt in taekwondo. Money raised from his outstanding effort was divided between us and the club he attends so they can improve their wheelchair access.
Reggie’s Big Adventure
(Reggie is Dorsey Bear’s little cousin)
Our amazing friends at Grosvenor Carpets spent 2 years planning and training for an incredible physical challenge that saw them cycle over 1000 miles from Bournemouth to Nice, France. Their trip is entirely self-funded so 100% of the £18,081 raised will be spent on the children and young people we support.
Happy 1st Birthday Saturday Club
This unique club for children and young people who have profound and multiple learning difficulties has now been operating for one year!
A party was held for all the children attending.
Accessible for All Cinema
We have launched a new offering under our Accessible For All initiative, our very own state of the art cinema, kindly donated by Together For Cinema and Living Home Tech and their partners. This amazing new facility is located in our children’s charity shop, The Treehouse. We are now able to host relaxed movie viewings for our children who struggle with the sensory overload that attending a public cinema can cause. This new equipment will be put to good use as we can offer it out to our many community groups for various fun and educational events.
It was half term in October and we were able to provide several activities including 2 Halloween themed parties with over 40 children attending these at Poole and Southbourne venues. These parties were carefully planned to accommodate the sensory needs of our children and included craft activities, games and a magic show with quiet zones available for those who needed it.
A wonderful 15yr old girl, Kitty (who we support) wanted to give something back and decided to have her lovely long hair cut. This was very brave of her but benefited two charities as her hair was sent to The Little Princess Trust and she received £1100 in sponsorship for us. We were able to hold a winter ball for the first time since covid which our trustee Carlie Palmer organised with support from our charity partner The Marsham Court Hotel. The event was a resounding success and raised £6000.
December was a very difficult month for some of our families as heartbreakingly 2 children passed away, as did one of our parents. We supported all the families affected with offers of financial assistance and practical help like food shopping and cleaning etc. We attended all funerals and will continue to help these families throughout the coming year by offering counselling and access to our family activities.
Accessible for All Despite the sadness we all felt, we continued with our events. After the success of last year’s Christmas events, we tripled our efforts and hosted 3 Christmas parties back to back, in one day, at one venue. By doing this we were able to accommodate over 120 children and their parents. We were able to give every child a gift from Santa and provided a sensory room, mobile changing room with hoist and fully inclusive crafts and games that the whole family could get involved with.