On a beautiful sunny day in August I joined some of Henfield Haven’s newest (and youngest) supporters, the ‘Mini Haven’ group, as they opened their new wooden playhouse in the Haven garden.
Ella helped dingy Stephenson from the Haven to cut the ribbon and much excitement ensued as Ella and her friends investigated the new playhouse. Face-painting and a toy stall in aid of the Haven attracted a flurry of attention while mums, dads and carers enjoyed a coffee and a chat in the sunshine.
The idea of utilising the beautiful Haven garden in this way came from a chance visit during the Gardens and Arts weekend by Beckie Devlin and Kate Wilson. After chatting with friends Michelle Taylor and Jo Penfold, the group of St Peter’s mums upon the idea of using The Haven as a coffee stop-off after the school run, somewhere their pre-school children could play safely in a lovely outside space.
It seems great minds think alike, at the time of the group’s small fundraising campaign for the playhouse, a Channel 4 programme ‘Old People’s Home for 4 year Olds’ was being aired. It was all about the introduction of a nursery class to a care home, with some fascinating results for both the children and adults. The idea struck a chord; the full amount was raised within two weeks and with the blessing of the Haven committee and Impact Initiatives (who run the centre) work got underway.
Tony Westwood built the base while Tom Wilson and Chris Knox constructed the wooden shell.
It’s small but perfectly formed; giving the children somewhere to enjoy some creative play. Members of the Haven Allotment Group have offered to donate some watering cans for the playhouse to encourage some constructive gardening!
Michelle said; “The Haven is for everyone of all ages, and we hope the Mini Haven will help raise awareness of the work of the Haven with dementia patients and in combating loneliness. The garden is ideal for the spring and summer months, we’re very focussed on being considerate of the Haven user’s presence. Having the children around brings light and laughter and we can see many positive possibilities.”
Digby said, “One of our remits is to remove the concept of The Haven as ‘a place for older people’. Introducing different generations in this way is wonderful for us and really helps to break down the barriers and stigma which can be associated with dementia. There are some great courses, events and drop-ins at the Haven, or you can just pop in for lunch or coffee. Everyone is welcome and we’re really pleased to see the garden being used in this way.”
“Martha asks if we can ‘go to the garden’, it’s levelly that she enjoys playing with her friends here,” said Beckie. “We understand more about the work of the Haven since we’ve been visiting and its great to introduce our friends to this wonderful place. It can only be positive for everyone.”
Emma Osman. Photos by BN5 Magazine.