Joanne Coe is the busy organiser of ThePort youth group – and there was no stopping her – and the youngsters – during the recent stringent social distancing and isolation measures!
Although unable to meet together at the Littleport Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Joanne told Littleport Life about many of the activities in which they have been involved.
Joanne says: ‘We have been keeping busy in the community with many activities including random acts of kindness, crafts and online activities over the last few weeks.
Our first week was mainly all about encouragement. Encouraging the children/youths to keep themselves safe and as the slogan states, Stay Home!
Posting out on social media many reminders, guidance on washing hands as often as possible and keeping busy indoors.
In early May, 250 clear bags full of goodies were prepared comprising note books, sweets, small games, bracelets, model airplanes etc. All were then delivered across the village randomly as Random Acts of Kindness.
We asked youths and the community to make ‘thinking of you’ cards to add to some bags for older residents – these cards were left at the One Stop shop.
Many photos were posted online of children with the bags – messages of thanks and support to others.
The second week saw many parents struggling with school work and keeping children/youths busy – we decided to source crafts to help support many who were finding it hard at home whilst parents tried to work in the house. Craft supplies in local shops were very low.
We also posted on our media page many craft ideas using items easily found in the home and continued to add these ideas weekly.
Just for example – drawing a picture on a plate with a marker then adding water to lift the picture so it moves.
Cutting a plastic bottle in half attaching a sock and dipping it in fairy Liquid / water to blow snake bubbles.
Quizzes and Picture Quizzes were also added online for the older youths and adults.
Shopping for some of the youths’ families has also been high priority, trying to ensure all who use the food bank have been continuing to do so and claiming school free meals if applicable. We have also offered assistance with any forms.
Staying in touch with youths we see regularly who we know suffer with mental health related concerns has also been high priority ensuring that all are ok and know we are on the phone should they have a need to chat. Our Essential Sue Box has also been on offer with toiletries for all who may require.
Crafts arrived and were sorted in to 50 bags and distribution began.
Alongside this, Easter Bunny bags x 45 were prepared and hung all over the village as a random act of kindness for families to find whilst out exercising.
Huge Easter Hampers were delivered to The Grange, Laburnum Lodge and Beech Court. We included crafts and goodies for residents to enjoy.
Over 70 Easter Eggs were delivered to The Grange for staff and residents. We say a huge thank you for allowing ThePort youths in to help through the year.
We got proactive in raising £450 to assist Phil Priestley’s Youth Panel to help provide lap tops for children you need and put a link on our Face Book Pages.
Joanne told us about a healthy initiative to encourage youngsters to exercise!
Moving on from the first few weeks we continued to stay in contact with many families in Littleport encouraging daily exercise. Many parents had mentioned children were not bothered about going for a walk and it’s becoming difficult to encourage exercise – mainly because it wasn’t safe to just pop in the shop for some treats etc.
And so the idea of a pocket money stall was put in to action. My husband Andy and I cleared all the prizes we store at the youth group and sold many plus all the bingo prizes were sold at really reasonable prices. Our stock was then refreshed – but the most important thing was seeing the children (and parents) excited about a little treat after walking or cycling to my drive.”
Joanne went on to say: “The online crafts and recipes continue. Over £350 worth of crafts were sourced and these were sold from my drive. We supported The Grange art display. And NHS/Key worker colouring in templates were made available as many do not have printers at home. Over 350 packs of chalk were delivered after days of searching the internet – chalk was sold out everywhere, and these were sold at the cost price again to encourage exercise. Children used this to decorate walls and driveways adding games etc.”
In conclusion, Joanne told Littleport Life: “We also had lots of entries for the colouring competition and fantastic donations from some local businesses.”
ThePORT joined forces with the ex-servicemen’s club during the lockdown!
First of all many congratulations to all those who entered the picture competition, they were all of a wonderful standard!
How did this competition come to be?
Back in April, Cathy Gibb de Swarte asked committee member Derek Timbers whether the Littleport Ex- Servicemen’s Club notice boards, that were miserably blank of the usual notices for forthcoming activities, could be cheered with decoration by the youth group called ThePort that ordinarily uses the Club to meet.
No sooner said than done – Derek called Joanne Coe, ThePort organiser and the idea for a pictorial competition on the topical theme of how we deal with the difficult situation and for the entries to be pinned on those hitherto blank spaces outside the Club was instigated.
With the age categories decided and a deadline for entries, the new competition was quickly announced and as the pictures poured in, they were pinned up for all to enjoy.
The day for judging the entries arrived and Littleport Life magazine’s photographer, reporter and advertising manager Cathy Gibb de Swarte, together with consultant editor Lyn Gibb de Swarte, who are also secretary and publicity officer respectively for The Littleport Society, were asked to choose the winners.
The standard of all the entries was really high so choosing between them all was really hard. From the youngest, aged 2 years old, to the ‘Over 16’s’ that ranged up to 60 years of age, the judges were hard-pressed to look for the winners and runners-up in all the categories.
But it had to be done, so… The Winners, Runners-Up and the prizes they received were:
Winner: Penny Walther
Prize – Art Set Donated by Fenland Spirit Services and Chocolates donated by Derek Timbers.
Runner Up: Mason Islet
Prize – Craft & Sweets
Age 6 – 10
Joint Winners: Ruby Walther and Lucie Hensby
Prize – £20 Rumbles Voucher & Ali’s Kebab £20 Voucher
Runner Up: Caitlin White
Prize – Craft & Sweets
Age 11 – 16
Prize – £23.50 Pizza Town Voucher (donated)
Runner Up: Ruby Johnson
Prize – Craft & Sweets
Winner: Laura Mathews
Prize – Clare’s Kitchen – Picnic on VE Day for 4
Runner Up: Jane
Prize – Craft & Sweets
An extra prize was also given to Shelby Palmer as Highly Commended.
The photos are winners in each age category followed by runners-up and last but not least the highly commended.
They were then replaced to be viewed outside the Ex-Servicemen’s Club courtesy of Joanne Coe and Andy Coe.