The nursery staff have been working very hard in the last two weeks, packing up the nursery at Churchfields and moving it up to The Balsam Centre, its new home. The decorators have been in, and the nursery is set to open its doors at the end of August. We are all very excited to be working under one roof again! To celebrate, Conkers is holding an Open Day and Fete.
It will be at The Baptist Church in Mill Street, Wincanton, on Thursdays - 6.30pm - 8.30pm. Click on the link to see the programme of activities running over the summer. There are several other activities for young people on at The Balsam Centre over the summer - go to the Young People page to find out more about cooking classes, music, and the Teen Drop-in.
Jonathan Astill, a local arboriculturalist, will be leading a local walk through the churchyard and park on Saturday 5th October. Meeting at St Peter's Church, 10.30am. Free - donations welcome. Come and find out all about our local trees!
Taike Drumming, a 6 week Japanese drumming class Time for You and Your Business returns, both starting in September. Also starting in September is Sweaty Mama a new exercise class for mums with their babies / toddlers / preschoolers.
The Introduction to British Sign Language Had to be postponed because the tutor was unable to make it - we did have a full class so we are hoping to run this very shortly.
Along with the soft furnishings Sewing Group at The Balsam Centre every other Monday, we are starting a second, weekly, sewing group in Templecombe from the 16th September, Mondays, 10am -12 noon at the Social Club.
Keeping with the creative theme, we have a new Painting and Drawing Group on Monday mornings, 9.45 - 12.15. This is a relaxed art group rather than a class, open to all levels, where you can work on your own project within a friendly group over coffee, getting tips and advice from Rob when needed.
We are starting an evening Life Drawing Class on Mondays, 5.30pm - 7pm from the 14th October - call us to book a place.
Spark now have a desk in the office so we have a new part-time colleague, Helen Fielden. Helen is working on a great new Spark project in Wincanton, finding volunteers to help other people to volunteer. There are some people in our community who would like to volunteer but are unable to. This might be due to a physical disability, mental ill health or a learning difficulty. So she is looking for volunteers who might be able to help - maybe to come with someone for the first few volunteering sessions, support them to take on the role if they have mobility issues, or offer emotional support and encouragement. Training will be provided. If you are interested in getting involved, take a look the Spark website for more details.
The evening Creative Group will be back on Thursday 5th September, 6.30pm - 8pm. Gather up your skills and ideas to share with others - painting, printing, poetry, creative writing, drawing - anything and everything creative!
The Drumming Group is back! Tuesdays 2pm with Claire.
The Breastfeeding Support group is now the Breastfeeding Cafe! Run by trained mums to support other mums, a chance to get advice and meet other mums. There will also be Antenatal Information Sessions run through the year.
Craft and Play sessions for under 5s and their parents/carers is open to all, running on Tuesdays, 9am - 11am. A chance for children and their families to play together! Please note though that the group will not be running for the first 2 Tuesdays in September.
IT-Help! Sessions are continuing for anyone with a tablet, mobile phone or laptop they need help in using. We have 4 great volunteers who can give you individual support - but we have changed the group to a booking system - call us to book a session.
Lipreading Classes are returning Tuesdays, 11.30am - 12.30pm for anyone who struggles to hear in noisy environments.
Come along and have some fun with Hook-a-Duck, Hoopla, Tombola, and other activities. You will be able to explore our new premises, the garden and our little orchard, as well as meeting the staff that work with the children. Refreshments available.
Jane opened her delightful house and gardens at the end of May to welcome keen Bridge players for a day of Bridge, with afternoon tea and a glass of fizz, raising money for The Balsam Centre.
The weather was perfect and a huge number of lovely cakes were baked by friends and family for the day, and the setting couldn't be more lovely.
The winner of the tournament was Harriet Palmer, pictured here with her prize - well done, Harriet!
Thank you to Jane, Emily and everyone who helped make the day run so smoothly, helping to raise an amazing £3,800!!
With Sport Relief in full swing to raise money for charities like ours, our Maternal Mental Health project has been in the news as one of the projects that Comic Relief funded last year. (Comic Relief and Sport Relief run alternate years). Kelly and some of the mums have been interviewed on the radio and tv recently to talk about the project and what it has meant to mums taking part. Now we are being featured in a tv programme following Annie Price as she prepares to have a baby.
Annie found out her mum had experienced postnatal depression and Annie was worried that she too might experience it after her baby was born. So she came along to find out more.
You can see the whole programme by clicking on this link.
The Winter Fair, formerly HFT Fair, had another very successful event this year. In just 3 hours on the 17th November, the fair raised over £10,000! All credit to the fantastic team that make up the Winter Fair Committee. They collect an enormous amount of clothes, cakes, jams, bric-a-brac, handbags, scarves, jewellery, paintings and pictures to sell on the day, sort it all into separate stands, and then run the stands on the day along with a very good tombola.
This year, they were joined by some of our own volunteers who helped to load and unload, sell entry tickets, and kept stallholders refreshed with teas and coffees, as well as running the Balsam Centre information and craft stand. MANY THANKS to the volunteers who helped out - Tom, Phil, Richard, Liz, Alison, Janice, Chloe, Jazz, Paris, Claire, Tony, Lynn, Jackie A, Jackie H and Terina.
Our previous windows were 30 or so years old and were well and truly showing their age, with serious condensation between the panes. My favourite window was the one in the office that gave the ghostly wail when the wind blew....
Replacing all the windows is an expensive job - enter Viridor Credits to the rescue! We now have silent, draught-free, double glazed windows - this is going to make such a difference, especially in the winter. To the groups that use the Veronica Room - you can now see out of the windows!!
Viridor Credits mission is "to make a positive difference to local communities by providing funding opportunities for projects from the Landfill Communities Fund", which they have certainly achieved here, and we would like to thank them too for all their support during the funding process.
Nick Berry from Viridor Credits visits the Memory Group to see the new windows in the Veronica Room
We are delighted to announce that the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given us £15,000 - many thanks to those of you who voted for us on their website. We are thrilled to have won the grant; it will help us to continue the valuable services that we offer here.
There are many ways to raise money for The Balsam Centre. Maybe you'd like to do something fun whilst raising money...
Would your company be interested in volunteering with us for the day? Emily Sheaf is our latest company volunteer, spending the day helping people to get online and use their tablets or smartphones. In June Spark came to volunteer for us, running the Loose Ends Cafe one Tuesday - delicious chilli! And Wincanton Racecourse are coming next week, helping us to treat the Art Shed. It's a great way for your team to get out together and get involved in the community - and it's fun!
Robert Frith Opticians completed a sponsored walk for us, raising a fantastic £500 for the Mens Shed Project and our own Berry Bernsen ran the Marathon for us last year. If you might be interested in a sponsored walk, we can even help you plan and reccy the walk with our own volunteers.
Emily Sheaf from Enterprise Car Hire in the IT Drop-in
If you are interested in company volunteering or taking on a team fundraising challenge - or if you have any other ideas - talk to Sue or Annette, 01963 31842.
It was wonderful to see so many people out and about in Wincanton on Saturday, getting involved in the Savour the Flavour event. The Balsam Centre provided the venue for the Cakes Competition, sold their homemade "Bottom of the Fridge Soup" and fresh bread, and displayed a range of "mood food" - food that will naturally make you feel good.
Ella wins Best Bake for Over 11's with her amazing house and garden cake!
Emma won Best Cake Decoration, Under 11's, for her lovely sheep eating grass and relaxing!
Mia won Best-Bake Under 11's for her beautifully decorated muffins, with edible silver and gold leaf.
Everyone has a fridge drawer that at some point contains a few bendy carrots, two sticks of celery, and other oddments that didn't quite fit in to what they were cooking. Maggie, our wonderful volunteer who runs our Loose Ends Cafe, has the perfect soup recipe to use them all up
Morrisons, not wanting to waste food which has past its sell by date but still good to cook with, have been giving The Balsam Centre their fruit and veg for the Loose Ends Cafe, and this week donated this food for the soup. Maggie came up with three delicous recipes, the Basic Soup, Basic + Tomotoes, and Basic + Corriander and Lemon, which we sold with lovely hunks of Lovington Bakery's Sourdough Bread.
Jackie, from Morrisons, came up to join us for the day and helped Maggie set up, serve and clear away - thank you, Jackie! And thank you Morrisons, for all the vegetables you have provided for the both this event and the cafe!
Take the contents from the bottom of the fridge
Chop the root vegetables and place them in a baking tray with 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp salt. Roast at 180 C for 20 minuites
Mix in the other chopped vegetables and continue roasting for 30 minutes at the same temperature
Once roasted, place the vegetables in a blender with some water, and whizz until smooth
Thank you, Morrisons, for supporting us with this event, and for all the vegetables you have given us for our weekly cafe - plus the fruit for the Craft and Play Family Group!
Charlie Taylor for BBC Somerset came to visit the "shedders" last week, to interview them and Sue Place for his evening radio programme.
If you would like to hear the interview go to BBC Somerset Sounds. You can move the slider to start 22 minutes into the show to hear the start of the interview.
Charlie now has his name down on the Shedders Tea/Coffee board, along with the Countess of Wessex, so we hope he'll pop in again to visit some of the other activites we have here at the Centre!
Our Family Worker, Kelly, had a road trip to the Baby Basics headquarters in Ilminster to collect this beautiful mosses basket hamper for one of the families that we support here at the Balsam Centre. Lisa at Baby Basics is providing an amazing service to families in need of baby supplies and we were lucky to be able to work with them to provide much needed support. The kindness and effort put into each basket is amazing. Thank you Baby Basics South Somerset
The Balsam Centre welcomed Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to the Centre in November, with children from both Conkers and Balsam Nursery to greet her as she arrived.
Her Royal Highness had a tour of the Centre, meeting beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and trustees, and dropped in on a number of the different social, therapeutic and support groups and activities taking place that day. In every group and activitiy, The Countess of Wessex stopped and chatted to people, playing with the children in the Balsam Multiples group, and helping the IT learners to download apps. Everyone enjoyed meeting her!
Following her tour, we had the official launch of the Well Wessex group of charities. The four established charities working together to improve mental health in Somerset are: The Balsam Centre, Creativity Works, Heads Up! and Chard Watch. Each charity has its own individual approach and all include use of peer support to assist in recovery and maintenance of good mental health and wellbeing. The charities have been developing a new and effective model to meet the many challenges and changes currently taking place in the field of mental health.
Led by artist Sophie Bellars, the community came together to create a series of mixed media artworks to commemorate the men and women who fought in WW1, involving students from Wincanton Primary School and King Arthur's Community School, along with residents of Carrington House, the Guides and Wincanton Youth Club. Wincanton Museum and History Society and the Library brought together documents and artifacts from the period.
The event culminated on the 5th July with historical exhibitions at the Library and Museum and with the artwork on display at The Balsam Centre where we were joined by the Chapel Cross Tearoom Choir who sang songs from the period.
During WW1, a local young woman, Constance Bailward, was a nurse in the hospital installed at the Priory. She filled a sketchbook full of drawings and verse, describing daily life at the hospital. This fantastic historical resource was one of the central pieces of the event, and inspired the drama created by the students from King Arthur's school.
Women from Carrington House worked with Sophie to create a roll-call of those from the community who lost their lives in WW1, embroidering the names and regimental insignia to create a large patchwork blanket. It was an opportunity for women to come together and talk about how they learnt and used their sewing skills over their lifetimes.
The 2nd Wincanton Guides took their inspiration from WW1 weapons. The Museum lent them some original weapons from the war, allowing the Guides to get a sense of what it might be like to be in the midst of war.
Starting with their initial reactions to the weapons, Sophie worked with the Guides to paint and print onto fabric, and the Guides then sewed the pieces together to recreate the missiles in the form of soft sculptures.
Year 5 pupils from the primary school collaborated with year 7 and 8 pupils from King Arthur's to study the stain glass windows in St Peter's and St Paul's Church. One of the windows depicts St George and was paid for by a local family to commemorate their son who was killed at the Somme - St George's face might be that of Lance Corporal Cash. The pupils designed and painted their own stained glass windows to put up in the Balsam Centre for the WW1 Heritage exhibition.
Sophie joined with members of the Youth Club to look at the story of a local lad, Harry Hamblin who lived on West Hill and was in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
After joining the Reserves, Harry was drafted into a Navy battalion and sent to the front. After recovering from an initial injury, he was sent back to the front where he was killed. Using a photograph of Harry in uniform, the club told his story through a series of images and text to create a time-line of the events that led up to his death.
Susan Huggins, Drama Director and co-creator of The Ministry of Play and Director of The Octagon Theatre Company, Yeovil, worked with Year 9 Drama students to create a work inspired by Nurse Bailward’s sketchbook which was performed in the gardens at the Balsam Centre as part of the Sketches of Wartime Wincanton.
We currently have no vacancies but if you are looking for work, do drop in to our Job Club on Fridays.
The Balsam Centre is an independent charity set up by local people for local people.
Whilst the work of the Centre is long term, funding for its projects and services is all too frequently short term.
It is largely thanks to help from a fund created by a legacy left by one person, that the Balsam Centre has been able to continue its mental health work over the last few years. The help that this has given hundreds of people is a permanent and living memorial to that person’s generosity.
If you are thinking of donating, have you considered becoming a Friend of the Balsam Centre? This is a commitment to regular giving of any amount, at any interval, by standing order, and even better, if you are a UK tax payer and you ‘tick’ to say so, we can claim another 25% on top of your donation to support the work of the Centre. Become a Friend here!
We have signed up to be a part of Give As You Live where you can raise money for us - just by shopping online in your normal way! All you have to do is click on the link, choose your charity - The Balsam Centre - and then create an account.
The site will ask for your name, email address and a password. You can choose your favourite shops, or just use their search bar to find the product you are looking for. When you buy in this way, the retailer will donate an amount to us, and you can see exactly what you have donated. This is a great way for people who would like to support us to do so whilst doing their normal online shopping! All the big retailers are there, Amazon, Ebay, supermarkets, and department stores. Happy Shopping! And thank you for supporting us!!
We now have a Virgin Giving charity page where you can donate directly, and Virgin will collect the tax for us! Just click on the button below.