Staff from the newly formed Student Futures Department at the University of Chester have been engaging in a number of wellbeing days to get to know their colleagues better, learn new skills and develop existing ones.
The wellbeing days were organised around the five key themes used by staff in the department in their wellbeing work with students, which include Staying Connected, Keeping Active, Mindfulness, Giving Back and Learning.
Activities that staff were able to get involved in were: a treasure hunt entitled Hidden Gems, to explore Chester city centre; a ramble round Delamere Forest; attending a mindfulness session delivered by Inspire and Rewire; a cup cake decorating and coffee making session; a jewellery making session; a watercolour painting workshop and a volunteering day at a local charity Barrowmore, with which the university has a long established relationship.
Barrowmore is a registered charity which was established in 1920 as a sanatorium to treat soldiers returning from the First World War with tuberculosis.
The colony of Barrowmore Village Settlement was established in the then Barrowmore Hall, purchased from the Lyle Smith family. It was later bombed and destroyed in 1940.
Rebuilt as a hospital, Barrowmore was taken over by the NHS from 1948 and continued to operate until its closure in 1982.
Following this, the building was converted into a nursing home which opened in 1993, now Barrowmore House.
Barrowmore provides supported living accommodation to a maximum of 35 disabled and vulnerable people and can also offer short term welfare breaks and respite.
The charity also provides interim move-on accommodation in the form of 20 bungalows and flats for those residents who are able to manage a more independent lifestyle, while taking advantage of the onsite support if required.
Patrick Haycock, CEO at Barrowmore, and his team welcomed 20 members of Student Futures’ staff with a brief history of the site, accompanied by coffee and cake, before splitting staff into three separate teams.
Barrowmore is set within 85 acres of parkland, which includes an allotment and a small farm housing pigs, alpacas and chickens which is where the Student Futures team began their work.
Tasks undertaken by the different teams included weeding the vegetable patches on the allotment, replanting of strawberry plants and digging up runner beans to make way for the planting of leeks.
Other duties included furniture removal, with the aim of enabling an unused unit to be rented out by a local business and the painting and staining of fences, sheds and decking around the estate under the supervision of three friendly alpacas, a donkey and a Shetland pony!
Acting director of careers and employability and employment opportunities team leader, Sally Harding, said: “The University of Chester has a really good relationship with Barrowmore, especially staff from careers and employability, as a number of us have volunteered at the charity previously.
“It was great to have the opportunity to introduce colleagues from across Student Futures to Barrowmore and the wonderful work that the charity gets involved in.
“Feedback from colleagues who participated in the volunteering day has been extremely positive and, as usual, we were made to feel extremely welcome by staff and residents, who were extremely appreciative of all our efforts.”