Boswells Blog

4th May 2016

Charity News

Charity News

Boswells Charity Of The Year 2016-17

After a highly contested vote our staff have chosen Sobell House as our Charity for 2016-17. So look out for ways that Boswells' staff and customers can raise money for this great local charity. 

We will be reporting back on a visit to Sobell House but in the meantime here's a quick reminder of what Sobell House is all about. You can read more on their website.

"Founded in 1976, Sobell House was one of the earliest NHS hospices to be established, following in the footsteps of Dame Cicely Saunders, considered by many to be the founder of the modern hospice movement in UK. Since then, we have been providing specialist palliative care to patients and their families at home, in the Oxford hospitals, and in our purpose-built hospice on the Churchill Hospital site." 

Jonathan Pearson, our Managing Director said:  “I am so pleased that our store team has chosen Sobell House Hospice as our Corporate charity for the coming 12 months. I’m sure that together with our customers we can work our hardest to raise funds through in store activities and exciting colleague events to support this truly local charity at the heart of the Oxford community”.   


In other Charity News - Radio Cherwell Toys Donation

Although we normally restrict our donations to our chosen annual charity we just couldn't resist helping Radio Cherwell Oxford's awarding winning hospital radio station with their need for toys as prizes in their "Wicked Weekday Show". After a donation for one week of prizes in March we contacted our lovely suppliers and they came through with enough toys for a year's prizes. Well done them.


Radio Cherwell Toys Presentation May 3rd 2016Here are Naomi Simons the show's presenter and Nick Saunders the producer alongside Rosie and Anne from our Toys department handing over the prizes although not all of them could fit in shot!

Many thanks to the following suppliers, in no particular order; Hasbro, Interplay, Ty, The Green Board Game Company, James Galt, Orchard Toys, VTech, DKL, Gibsons, Ravensburger, Character Options, John Adams, Peterkin, Big Jigs Toys and Keel Toys.

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3rd July 2015

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

Our visit to Headway Oxfordshire

In June myself and a colleague had a morning out to visit our 2015 charity Headway Oxfordshire. Although we had a lovely time the main reason was to find out for ourselves what Headway Oxfordshire do and meeet some of the staff and most importantly the users of their services. As a reminder Headway Oxfordshire specialises in providing support and rehabilitation services for those recovering from brain injury and to their helpers. You can read more about this previous blog.

Outside Headway officeWhen we arrived at Headway Oxfordshire's office we were slightly surprised because it is actually a Church part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Turns out that they are in the process of buying the building from the Diocese with church services to continue as before. This initiative is just part of Headway Oxfordshire's expansion plans, more of which later. So after Victoria on the left of the picture greeted us we went straight into the building for a tour.

"My Favourite Day"

There were already service users inside havng a chat and a catch up in preparation for the first of the day's activities, a chair yoga session with a cooking session in the afternoon. Yesterday there had been a picnic at the Botanical Gardens and quizzes, games and trips to the cinema are also favourites. As we discovered when speaking to Sheila and her husband Harry who had a stroke 3 years ago, the interaction with other carers and those in recovery is absolutely vital to them. Harry said it was "my favourite day" and said that it until starting at Headway Oxfordshire 18 months ago he had "felt very isolated". He went on to say that "seeing the improvement of others was vital to me to understand was was possble and inspire me to continue my own hard work". Sheila who is caring for Harry spoke of the ability to have a little time off during the activities in a "perfectly safe" environment and how much that break is needed. Having been married for 31 years the devotion to each other was very clear, but they acknowledged the challenge of dealing with Harry's changed circumstances. His impressive wheelchair had to be privately bought and Headway Oxfordshire was their ONLY opportunity for support after leaving hospital.

Activity BoardLeaving the users to their yoga we chatted to some of the volunteers. Jill has been an unpaid volunteer from its beginnings in 1982. At the time her own son had suffered a traumatic brain injury falling down stairs at home when he was 16 and has needed 24 hours a day supervision ever since. That is a huge adjustment and although her son now lives in a community in Cornwall where he is looked after Jill spent the first 10 years completely on her own looking after her son without a break. So it's not a surprising that she is a warm and passionate advocate of the charity.

 "Can Never Go Back To What They Were Before"

We were particularly taken by Jill's points that the impact of brain injury can be hidden by a superficial glance. Her own son being " a fine figure of a man in his forties and you don't know until you start speaking to him that this is someone who needs special help". Also that Jill has seen "more lives being saved by advances in surgery, resulting in people living for normal lifespans but no plan to help them do so". Which is of course where Headway Oxfordshire and their fund-raisers come in!

Patrick is a long term staff member who apart from arranging the extremely popular quizzes (Harry is a fan) visits a specific person twice a week. He noted that both volunteers and carers have to handle the frustration and even anger of people affected by brain injury who "can never go back to what they were before". There are sometimes actual changes of personality or missing memory as well as the understandable emotional rollercoaster of surviving, but being changed. Naturally this is nearly as traumatic for the carer often a partner or child who knew the person before. As a professional visitor this isn't an issue, but handling emotional outbursts is still very much part of the job. In the case of his client he can work with them on building skills that they just can't do unsupervised, but did every day for 40 years before their injury, helping their self-worth and confidence in the process.  

Headway Oxfordshire are careful to involve carers as much in activities as they want to be involved. The carers weekends away are a blessing for many but a complicated arrangement for the charity as some wouldn't enjoy it without those they care for, whilst others really need a complete break. So the staff are always "trying to find a balance" and "get feedback each time and act on it". They've just had their annual weekend break away, this time in Winchester.

"Headway Oxfordshire Is A Small Charity That Always Needs More Funding"

Physio areaWe moved on to see some of the permanent facilities available to users including some quite sophisticated physiotherapy equipment in a divided area from the main room. This area is naturally always supervised, but is used particularly intensively on Wednesdays when the high dependancy users visit.  Whilst we were there some users were making use of the co-ordination therapy items and having a chat at the same time.

The facility also has a quiet room for private conversations and some offices. In the first office we met Charlotte, Claire and Jamie the CEO of Headway Oxfordshire. So we were able to get a real look at the challenges facing them as well as the opportunities. Jamie noted that "Headway Oxfordshire is a small charity that always needs more funding" and also that "the longer term funding streams tend to come with very specific rules on how they can be spent. This makes the funding raised by companies like Boswells and individual contributions hughly valuable as the money can go as and where needed at that time. Which is why every donation is particularly appreciated."

outreach works in cabinA dependency on grants means that plans can only be made for the length of a grant and often there is a tendering process which can be time consuming. Jamie says "The increased tendering and subsequent monitoring processes have changed charities a lot in recent years. Now charities are more professional, with increased plan quality, but you have to ensure that you stick to the original ethos and provide the needed services rather than be all about meeting funding rules". That rang a bell with us as at Boswells we try to keep close to our customers and keep our identity whilst keeping pace with the modern world.

Part of the challenge to the original Headway Oxfordshire ethos is that although they provide their services for free the number of people who have a brain injury receiving funding has decreased a lot. This is because only those who undergo an assessment and are classified as having a critical or substantial need will now get funding. Many people don't even know about the assessment.

"More Lives Being Saved By Advances In Surgery, Resulting In People Living For Normal Lifespans But No Plan To Help Them Do So". 

Jamie and ambulenceAnother challenge is transport. Most users can't drive and require transport to Headway Oxfordshire. Thus their own ambulance, but this will soon need replacing. However the biggest need is drivers and co-ordinating the journeys across the whole of Oxfordshire to get to Kennington. If you are interested in helping, volunteering as a driver is definitely a good solution. They can even pay your transport costs if you are using your own car.

Another way they have reacted is to open satellite groups around Oxfordhire where users, volunteers and outreach workers can meet. Although the physiotherapy kit is missing at least that vital social interaction, confidence building and peer support can continue.

Even with the funding challenges this is an exciting time for Headway Oxfordshire. The aim of buying the building is the first stage to expand the building and its facilities, including a fully functioning kitchen. At the moment only cold preparation can be done and this isn't just about feeding users, but kitchen re-training for users to look after themselves. The outreach workers who currently share a portakabin may even get room to swing their arms when they walk around the office! The planning permission is already done.

My colleague and I were very moved by our visit and we are delighted that Boswells and its customers can help improve people's lives in this way. It is a sobering thought that accidents that result in brain injury as well as illness can strike anyone at any time. Although Headway Oxfordshire currently supports around 400 people there are actually over 3000 registered people suffering from traumatic brain injury in Oxfordshire. That is a lot of people potentially isolated and with overworked carers who more money can help reach.

If you are interested in helping Headway Oxfordshire then you can donate via Boswells in store or at http://www.headwayoxford.org.uk/ or by text HWOX01 plus your amount to 70070. Or contact Headway Oxfordshire to become a driver, volunteer for the centre, be a handyman or help with the admin. See what a difference you can make and you won't regret it.



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13th April 2015

Introducing Headway Oxfordshire Our Charity for 2015

Introducing Headway Oxfordshire Our Charity for 2015

Boswells chooses a charity each year via a staff vote and are visited by several charities so we can understand what they do and what support we can give. Naturally the choice is always difficult and this year we were very impressed by Headway Oxfordshire and voted for this worthy cause for April 2015 to April 2016 as our charity. We will be sharing any events or fundraising opportunities with you throughout the year but donation boxes are on all our tills now.

To those of us who do not know anyone with a brain injury or who aren't living with this ourselves Headway Oxfordshire is probably a bit of a mysterious name. To those that have suffered a brain trauma Headway Oxfordshire is hopefully both familiar and a vital lifeline to recovery and adapting to a new life and challenges. So here is some information about their amazing work. Read more about them and find out how you can help at their website www.headwayoxford.org.uk


What is a Brain Injury?

Brain injury strikes people of all ages, from all walks of life and in a variety of situations. Damage may be caused through trauma – road, domestic, industrial, sporting accidents, or assaults - or through stroke, tumour, haemorrhage, infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis, or other conditions.

Although it seems obvious, the brain controls everything about us, from breathing to the smallest personality trait … it makes us who and what we are. The consequences of a brain injury are as individual and varied as we are as people.

Brain Injury Diagram

Any combination of the affects (as in the diagram above) can have a profound impact on the lives of the individual, their family and carers. With early intervention and rehabilitation it is possible for individuals to maximise their recovery. However, many will live with the consequences of their injuries for the rest of their lives.

So how does Headway Oxfordshire help?

Headway Oxfordshire provides support to those with Brain Injuries to help both the physical and psychological recovery. Support is provided both immediately after the injury and long term. Long term care often falls to to those closest to the injured party and Headway Oxfordshire also provides support and guidance to carers and vital relief via a Breaks for Carers.

Information

“…92% of all hospitals in the UK fail to provide adequate information following minor head injury. Just 21 of 254 A&E departments across the UK provide the key information as recommended by both the NICE1 and SIGN2 guidelines.” The Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick

Headway Oxfordshire's Community Workers work closely with the JR Hospitals Trust Neuro Science and Neuro ICU wards and the Oxford Centre for Enablement. Visiting injured persons and their family in hospital and in their homes afterwards. Providing clear information and allowing those affected to frame their expectations and hanle sometimes enormous life changes.

“You can’t comprehend how confused and traumatised you are after such a terrible thing happens to your family, and how relieved you are that someone is there to offer you support, hold your hand and guide you through the difficult bits.” 

Rehabilitation

Headway Oxfordshire provides an Activity and Rehabilitation Centre at Kennington Oxford, under the guidance of professional staff and therapists. Regular activities are aimed at reskilling and up-skilling, improving memory, mobility, co-ordination and social skills. Physio suite

Therapies and activities may include:
• Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
• Brain gym and memory workshops
• IT
• Art and craft therapy
• Music workshops
• Games and quizzes
• Tai chi and Yoga
• Gardening and basic cooking
• Other Practical Tasks 

Support

“The doctors and surgeons saved me but Headway has made me who I am today and I am happy with the person I am now because I am lovely"

The Headway Oxfordshire Community Workers provide advise and support about all areas of adjustment to a sometimes radically altered life or personality. 

• Support to engage with community and leisure activities
• Advice and direct support to engage with other organisations around complex issues (eg housing, money management, lifestyle etc).
• Advice and direct support to utilise transport options to reduce isolation and increase community integration.
• Advice and direct support to prepare for, and engage with, vocational opportunities.
• Ongoing information to assist in adjusting to change, accessing services and opportunities that improve levels of independence and reduce isolation
• The Vocational Community Support Worker provides help and support, at the appropriate time, for individuals wishing to return to work.

Carers Support

“Every time the Headway woman was at the hospital she would come and see me. At that point I was in denial; why is this woman coming to see me – he’s going to go home and everything is going to be alright. Reality doesn’t come into your head, not in that place. Headway really kicked in when he came home and I realised things were not alright at all’

Carers Trip To London 2012The Carers Support Group was set up in 2010 within the Oxford centre, providing peer support, practical information and advice. Community Workers provide outreach support to the whole family: helping the carer access other support and benefits, and helping the family understand the affects of brain injury and come to terms with the changes in their lives.

Through Headway Oxfordshire’s Activity and Rehabilitation Centre, carers are provided with regular breaks throughout the week. In addition, one day a week is specifically for those with a higher level of dependency/profound disability. The “Breaks for Carers” service provides respite opportunities, including day excursions and short holidays for Carers with or without their dependant.

This image shows a group of carers on a trip to London.


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27th July 2014

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to our new website!

Hurrah our new website is here.

You can now buy from our website or browse our products at your leisure. We offer;

  • Free delivery to home & business with orders over £40

  • Click & Collect - purchase online & collect in store on the same day.

  • Exclusive discounts and offers online & instore for those who have joined us on our mailing list or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google +

  • For your convenience we've got Wishlists, Compare Products Options, Date Reminders, Repeat Orders, Online Cancellation & Free Returns in the UK.

  • For your enjoyment we have Competitions, Blogs, Recommendations & Helpful Tips.

We will continue adding new products all the time and have all our store departments online. Not everything is suitable for online, but we will be happy to check in store for you via our easy Live Chat & Contact Us options.

Read More about our website features

Enter our competition to win £100 Boswells Vouchers.

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