When my family and I moved to Littleport 8 years ago, it didn’t take us long to find out about all the amazing events and places that Littleport has to offer. For such a geographically small place, it oozes with charm, friendliness and amenities.
When you go for a walk, people often strangers, will talk to you. This may just be about the weather or to tell you about a local point of interest.
During one such trip a local man, when I told him that we were newbies, asked if I had been to the Branching Out charity shop. I hadn’t and so he urged me to check it out. He said that it was such ‘A Happy Place’.
I found the shop easily in the High Street and I was soon eagerly scouring the clothing rails and shelves. What struck me the most, was how well organised the shop was and with very friendly staff. The shop display had incredible attention to detail, with the design and care taken.
Dress necklaces, were displayed, by being draped over many gold sprayed barbie dolls which were attached to a large ornate picture frame. Sounds very kitsch. But you know what, it worked!
More recently I was told about the Branching Out workshop on Grange Lane. Again, a local described this place as such a Happy Place. Intrigued I visited and I came away so very happy and you will too.
Branching Out is a disability charity which has a central workshop and two shops. The stores being in Littleport and Chatteris.
The organisation provides highly skilled and worthwhile day provision for people with learning disabilities and complex needs. The team workers, headed up by the Grange manager Susan Wiggins offers a safe and relaxed atmosphere. This helps with behavioural correction and personal development, building upon both social aspects and daily skills. With the emphasis on creativity. The staff are able to identify the issues and what a persons trigger may be. Then come up with a strategy plan, which works.
Adults attend mostly, for 2 to 3 days a week. Often for several years. Across the organisation there are 17 members of staff.
The disabled people who attend are either local, but can be from further afield. Particularly as the care which Branching Out offer, is highly specialised and often not catered for in many towns.
So how is this service funded.
Well with difficulty. But through donations, staff perseverance, commitment, grants and finance knowledge, somehow it does.
This year Branching Out became a ‘Partner Charity’ for the White Stuff clothing store, in Ely.
Surinder, the manager at the White Stuff says, that it is a privilege and honour to sponsor the store for three years. This will mean regular fundraising by the store staff. In the form of sweets selling, from the many jars which are behind the till. As well as bigger fund raising events. In the summer, Surinder and the staff set themselves a challenge. Which they weren’t entirely sure they could complete. It was a week long challenge where the staff would run (mileage by group) the equivalent of Ely to Edinburgh. Some 350 miles. They were to run the task on a hospital grade treadmill. Which incidentally had been previously donated to Branching Out. For the disabled clients to remain fit and active. Donated by Co-Op Littleport.
The White Stuff staff didn’t disappoint. They smashed it!!
These funds this year, primarily went towards building work. To bring more light into the Grange workshop converted barn, by way of an amazing high window door entrance. The removal of what was once a dark brick wall, now floods the workshop with natural light. An amazing 409.5 miles was covered by the White Stuff. Staff and visitors to the store donated £412 during the fundraiser.
Other ways that the store has raised additional funds has been through raffles, cake sales, lucky dip, book sales and more recently Halloween bingo.
In order for this charity to continue its amazing work. It does need the support of both locals, businesses and visitors.
Your help can be through volunteering for the store or at Grange Lane. So many things need to be done. This may be assisting the disabled in looking after the Grange Lane garden or in the shop. Helping with the craft making or assembling at home. So cutting out craft items, which go in packs for the disabled clients to then assemble in the workshop.
The clients make so many amazing things, which are available to the public to buy.
Personalised wooden items:
Named Christmas Eve boxes
Christmas, Halloween,Easter etc decorative items
Plus oodlles more.
Stationary wedding items: Including Keep the date’ cards
Many items to hire for either wedding or baby showers:
Wooden ladder for displaying things e.g wedding table plans etc.
Rustic post box
Decorated items for the LGBT community.
You can also purchase fruit & veg and plants from the allotment.
Fire wood available
Event room hire too.
Either turn up or call if you would like anything.
Please, if you can spare some volunteer hours, wish to donate items to go on sale in the shop, to donate some funds or are a local business who would like to sponsor this amazing charity please do. They are waiting for you at this special, Happy Place.
Susan and everybody at Branching Out thank everybody who donates and assists them.
Tel: 01353 863561