On the day when thousands of children started their first full week back at school, we also had our own first day.
For the past year we have quietly behind the scenes been working towards a pilot, which we initiated today in the beautiful September sunshine, with 'The Good Company People'. The Good Company is a new not-for-profit established to do exactly that. They are launching their first service across East Sussex in Hartfield, Crowborough, Heathfield, Forest Row, Mayfield, Rotherfield, Groombridge and Wadhurst to provide Good Company to people who are socially isolated, lack stimulation and some of whom are living with memory loss.
We have spent the last year meeting, thinking, writing policies, attending training and generally learning about how we can facilitate and support individuals in our home and the woods. We have worked to tailor the whole process of meeting Guests and becoming Hosts. We have undertaken training in safeguarding, fire safety, community standards, active listening, storytelling, dementia and more, together with a cohort of Hosts. And it is fantastic to have started the first pilot, where we are seeing the impact of all of this development in action with a lovely group of people.
As a Community Interest Company, Sawpit Woods CIC provides an enriching space of connection for the local community and expertise to hold, facilitate, educate and enable others to learn, experience and enjoy time in the woods. Our vision is for all people to have space for connection with the natural environment. We aim to reach our vision by providing enriching, fun and creative experiences for all generations in reciprocal relationship with the land, woods and natural environment.
Through working with The Good Company People we are expanding our provision from facilitating baby, parent and child sessions, primary school age sessions and welcoming teenage volunteers, to now working with adults of all vertical ages in the woods.
And the sun shone down on us all today!
We started our day with introductions and a bit of story telling about who we were and why and how we were together here today, whilst drawing some flowers and plants from the garden.
We enjoyed lunch outside on what felt like the warmest day of the year! A home cooked meal of leek and potato soup made entirely from our own grown veg! This allowed us time to develop our familiarity with the Guests, their carers and each other as a group.
Armed with pots and containers, we set off down to the cool of the woods, collecting raspberries and blackberries along the way. We spotted butterflies and spiders webs and told tales of childhood summers spent hop picking in the garden of Kent. We listened to the sounds of the birds and the breeze and enjoyed the welcome shade of the tree canopy whilst we quietly connected and explored the woodland space.
We finished our day in the cool with a drink of water back indoors, and reflected on our shared interests and what we might like to do together in Good Company together next week. It might involve arranging flowers and plants, so another exploration to the woods will work towards connecting us with each other and nature in that way that the woods do best.