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Talking Avalon

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TBR wins Social Care Oscar See page 5

Customers win design competition See page 11

Talking Avalon

It was Jive Talking for Harrogate!


First ‘Graduate’ for Michelangelo! See page 2

Quarterly Newsletter for Avalon February 2009

The Harrogate office were entertained by non other than disco legends, the Bee Gee’s, at The Cedar Court Hotel on Wednesday 17th December. After a delicious 3-course meal

Teesside Family Living Providers, Geoff Hall and Andy Booker, celebrated their civil ceremony on 15th November 2008. Geoff and Andy provide a home for Avalon customer Timothy, and also offer short breaks. Congratulations and all the best for the future!

fingers were pointed diagonally skywards and hips gyrated as everyone boogied to the Disco beat.

Ruby Slippers for Christmas!

The Skipton Christmas Party was held at the Cross Keys pub on 13th December and attended by 42 Avalon staff and customers. A good time was had by all with plenty to eat and drink and entertainment by a local band. One of our customers, Chris Howson, even got up and gave us some tunes on the guitar!! A fabulous night which the customers really enjoyed!!

Missing Carol Singers at Stockton! By Lisa Fletcher Customers came from all areas of Stockton to enjoy the Floating Support Christmas party from 1 p.m. on 9th December at Hackworth Court, Stockton.

The Harrogate customer Christmas party was well attended at The Cairn Hotel on Thursday 4th December. The InterAct theatre group performed a wonderful version of The Wizard of Oz to entertain the guests who responded by dancing the night away afterwards!! Talking Avalon © Avalon Group. Registered office: 3 Grove Park Court, Harrogate HG1 4DP Tel: 01423 530053. Fax: 01423 530388

Editor & Designer: Crista Webber

Registered Charity No.: 1048236

Company No.: 2976727

Printed by: FinePrint UK

We had arranged for a group of school children to entertain our customers with a range of Christmas carols. However, when the children failed to arrive, we discovered that the mini bus had not turned up to collect them! Luckily Lisa quickly contacted the mini bus firm, which apologised and said that they had forgotten! The children finally arrived and sung their hearts out, - they were well worth the wait. Our customers had a collection and the mini bus company donated their fee (due to the mishap), and as a result, the children proudly took £60.00 back for their chosen charity, Childline. The party continued with a raffle. Everyone had a lovely start to Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Inside this issue: Angelena’s Thought 2 First ‘Graduate’ for 2 MAM Freecycle


Breakaway Hamper 3 A Sad Farewell Staff News

3 3

Good News, Bad News.


Dewsbury News



The Butterfly Room 5-8

FL Providers retire


A generous stranger 10 in a Bar A Fond Farewell


Customer Success Story


Customers rewarded for Designs


Party Pictures!


The Gift of Xmas Future After 5 years of running up and down two flights of stairs to hold a conversation, the Scarborough team had a Christmas present with a difference this year – a new, compact, self contained office!

moving day! Everyone worked extremely hard to get the place organized, and in no time at all it seemed that the empty packing boxes were all stacked up and ready to go.

On their wish list for Santa, the Scarborough team requested a “compact office (where all the team could work on the same floor!), in a safe environment with disabled access, plenty of parking, and p r e f e r a b l y surrounded by greenery and wildlife!”




initial teething problems with heating (now sorted, thanks to our heating engineer Peter Haigh!) and telephones (we all felt we needed a degree to work the new system!), we were soon fully functional.

I think everyone’s agreed that we Well….the team are very happy in must have been very our new “home”. good boys and girls It’s great that we in 2008, because on are all able to 18th November they work together now became the sole without the two occupants of a modfloor divide ern office unit in The Scarborough team celebrate their move between us, and Burneston, a village 3 miles outside a great benefit to our working Scarborough, towards Whitby. Set in practices. This was proven recently gardens, and with a selection of when a tricky situation with one of birdlife, the new setting is quiet, our customers was sorted between safe, and self contained. Carol FLS and SLS with relative ease. Mather, Scarborough Administrator, Some of us might miss the sea view comments; or the cricket, but it’s very “After months of planning, and with peaceful and rural here. Ask the help of four very enthusiastic Pauline about the pheasant that removal men, we were installed in wanders past her window!” our new offices by lunchtime on

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Talking Avalon

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Angelena’s Thought A Fond Farewell to Paul Paul Stewart has been a valuable member of the Scarborough team since joining us in 2004 as our office cleaner. His bright smile and willingness to help will be something that we will miss and we all wish him well in the future.

“Two roads diverged in the middle of my life, I

heard a wise man say. I took the road less travelled by, and that's made the difference, every night and every day” Anon

In the next news letter I will provide a detailed update on our financial situation, and how the economic climate is affecting Avalon. In addition, by early March, Julia Oxtoby and I will have written to all staff, providers and volunteers about salaries and terms and conditions for the new financial year. It appears that many of you are still not using for Avalon as your homepage for the Internet. Every time you use this homepage, a small donation goes to Avalon. It’s free and it benefits us! On the homepage you have to click on “fundraisers” in the blue box, then “sign up”. You are asked to enter your details, some of which are optional, and then you can nominate a charity. As you will see, there are quite a few Avalons, so scroll down until you find ours, then select it. Sign up TODAY! Angelena

“Robert is now the first official employee of Michelangelo’s Mates”

Robert is one of two customers from the

by Peter Haigh

success story Catherine Young was supported by Avalon Support Worker, Carol Lavelle, in the Northallerton area, from 2001 to 2006 before she moved to the Bradford area. Since her move, Carol has kept in touch with Catherine, and she has recently told us that in November 2008 she was successfully appointed as a paid mental health

L to R: Jane Hartley, Carol Woodhead and Beth Giddings bid farewell to Paul.

Customers rewarded for winning designs

FIRST “GRADUATE” FOR MICHELANGELO Robert Blackshaw has now completed his Painting & Decorating c o u r s e w i t h Michelangelo’s Mates (MAM), under Paul Deane’s training and supervision.

To show our appreciation for his services to the organisation we were pleased to be able to take him out for a meal as well as present him with an Avalon clock.

A customer

Mencap Pathway supported employment scheme who joined Michelangelo’s Mates on the 30 day placement in September.

so, that I would recommend Robert for any apprentice training i n P a i n t i n g & Decorating,” Paul commented.

“He has excelled in his work and his ability to learn new skills, so much so, that I would

“Robert is now the first official employee of Michelangelo’s Mates and has taken on supervisory duties to support me with other trainees.

Well done to Avalon customers Maureen Buglass, Sulina Navarro and Leslie Jackson, whose card designs were awarded first, second and third place respectively in the North Yorkshire County Council Christmas Card competition (see designs below). Maureen’s card was selected as ‘Directors Choice’ by the director of Adult and Community Services, Derek Law. Congratulations to all of you!

I am confident that Robert will go from strength to strength in his will to be a painter & decora tor. We at Michelangelo’s Mates wish to congratulate Robert on his new post.”

Paul Dane, MAM Project Co-ordinator (left), and first graduate, Robert Blackshaw

Catherine also enjoys fishing!

worker with Bradford mental health services. Catherine visits service users in their own homes and acts as an advocate for them liaising with all the relevant services. Catherine believes that her own illness has given her a great insight into other peoples’ problems and is invaluable to her work. Catherine has said on many occasions she wouldn’t be where she is today without Carol and Avalon’s input and support.

Maureen’s design (left), Sulina’s (top right), and Leslie’s design (bottom right)

Well done Catherine, and all of us at the Northallerton office wish you the very best for the future.

“Catherine believes that her own illness has given her a great insight into other p e o p l e s ’ problems and is invaluable to her work.

Talking Avalon

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Talking Avalon

A GENEROUS STRANGER IN A BAR By Nic Prior, Supported Living Regional Service Organiser

“At the


Arms after

(named a


mathematician) I listened



oddest auction I have ever heard!”

T’was a crisp Autumnal afternoon, the sun shone bright (I had to put my sunglasses on). The Churchyard clock struck noon as my carriage arrived. Though a chilly day, I neglected northern traditions, and decided to put on a warm coat rather than go out in just a t-shirt

Bar (ouch) and a gentleman enquired as to what he was holding. Ian replied that it was a signed Darlington football shirt that was due to be a raffle prize for the charity that we worked for. The gentleman asked further questions about the charity and its stirling work.

Ian Davison, the ideas man for the day, had arranged that an imbiber such as myself would have his Dad as nominated driver. Daniel arrived late, a mere twenty seconds previous to our departure, and took up position in the back of the automobile.

After this intellectual meeting of two like minded people, this other gentleman (also being an imbiber), enquired as to how much Ian wanted for the shirt. Ian replied an audacious £200. The man, who it turns out is called Dave and a Mackam (Sunderland supporter), didn’t quake an inch at this, and not to be refused his purchase, leapt his bid to £250! Yes that’s right, he was told £200, and offered £250! Ian used his perceptive judgement and decided to accept this offer. The shirt was handed over, and a week later a manilla envelope containing the agreed funds was put behind the bar.

We arrived at the Darlington Football Stadium and immediately felt thirsty; the other gentleman who met us there also all seemed to have this unusual unquenchable thirst. Having dealt with this strange medical condition we dined on carved meat, digestion aided by more imbibing. The football that followed produced a fighting 2-0 victory for Darlington and that barely got in the way of more imbibing. We retired to a local village hostelry to talk further, and having ascertained the bar stewards well being, set about propping up this small local business. Now, this long preamble of a tale actually leads into the main point that I am going to make. At the Emerson Arms (named after a famous mathematician) I listened to the oddest auction I have ever heard! Ian had arranged to get a signed Darlington Football shirt as a Teesside Christmas Disco Raffle Prize. Ian proudly walked into the

Now, along with this £250, great thanks must go to Diane Fenwick, her family, and the Teesside Team who collected prizes, raised cash donations, sold tickets, harassed people for raffle tickets and tombola (it cost me £10.00 and I’d only just walked in!)

Breakaway Hamper The Breakaway Xmas Hamper this year was graciously donated by a volunteer, Christine Day, who had won it as a prize in a fancy dress competition during a Breakaway Tinsel & Turkey holiday at Pontins. Congratulations on your reindeer costume Christine! Our grateful thanks to all who supported the hamper raffle. We had raised £84 for Breakaway when the draw took place on Friday 19th December, and the winner was Glenda Dunnett of our Harrogate office.

Staff News

If you haven't already come across Freecycle, the online recycling network - one of the biggest green initiatives of the past decade - it is a global network of message boards, with more than 450 groups in the UK. The beauty of it is that it transforms one person's trash into another's treasure. You sign up to your local group, where you can post messages to say what you're offering, or looking for. No money changes hands and it's up to the person who wants an item to collect it, so you don't have to

stress about how you're going to heave an unwanted futon out of your home. In these financially worrying times, it makes sense to trade household items with neighbours rather than buying them new. Freecycle has become a valuable way of acquiring things you want (without spending any money) and getting rid of those you don't (without sending them to landfill).




beauty of that

person's into


To find a group local to y o u v i s i t By Catheryn Greenwood

A warm welcome to….

Ideas on how to use this money would be appreciated; a race night and purchasing a Wii for activity days is already on the list.

Carol Giblin who started as a Team Co-ordinator at Harrogate, and Heidi O’Dwyer, Support Co-ordinator at York, both in December.

Louise was 52 and had worked for Avalon for over 4 years.As a valued & respected Support Worker, Louise will be greatly missed by both the customers she supported, & by her colleagues. She was

known to many at Avalon with her involvement with SLS & Breakaway, as well as the Skipton activity group. Louise also worked at the local college with students. Her skills and talents were numerous, and her enthusiasm and commitment in supporting people un-waivering. Louise will be remembered as a very special & caring person by all, and we will all miss her greatly.



Support Co-ordinator

As some of you may have heard, one of our Skipton-based Support Worker’s, Louise Woodstone, sadly passed away on Christmas Day.


transforms one

A Sad Farewell...By Andrew Firth

An eclectic mix of people from customers, customers’ families and support workers to support workers families, external customers and their carers and families, attended a great night and raised £902.45 - pure profit.


Don’t just Recycle – Freecycle!

Louise Woodstone

Talking Avalon

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Good News, Bad News As this newsletter goes to press, we are preparing to say goodbye to one of our longest serving members of staff.

fun-filled, lively member of the team, and she will be missed both in the team and the wider organisation, more than she will guess. It won’t be the same without her.

Helen Hall, Family Living Organiser based at the York office is leaving at the end of January. Helen joined us in 1997 and was originally working from Selby in, what I have heard referred to as, ‘the cupboard’!

“For her Providers, Helen has been a strong support in times of trouble and has shared in times of good fortune.”

When our York Organiser left, Helen became the full time worker for York and Selby, and at one time even did a stint in Scarborough. She has been responsible for building up the Family Living Service in her area and made it the well used and strong service it is today. Nothing is too much trouble for Helen and she quickly gained a reputation for her reliability and ‘can do’ approach among the local authority care managers, customers and their families. She became the first port of call for any emergencies

and difficulties. For her Providers, Helen has been a strong support in times of trouble and has shared in times of good fortune. She has laughed and cried with them, sat by many a hospital bed, driven people across the county and gone the extra mile literally and metaphorically whenever and wherever she saw a need. From Helen’s work began our first Daybreak service. Beyond her own ‘patch’, Helen has been a much valued and appreciated member of the FL staff team for almost 12 years. She has been a generous,

The good news is that Helen isn’t leaving us completely. In July of last year, I had the privilege of assessing Helen and her family as Family Living Providers. A young woman came to live with them in September, and Helen and her family have turned out to be the kind of Providers we guessed they would be. Helen has brought all the same qualities to her new role and loves it. It was no surprise to many of us when she decided she would like to concentrate all her time and energy on this new role. So one young woman gains a new family and Avalon keeps Helen, - good news indeed. Pauline Closier Family Living Director


Dewsbury News……... Congratulations to Nicola Hirst who had a baby boy on the 7th January at 12.08 weighing a healthy 6lb 5oz. We also had a lovely Xmas party with lots of customers attending, and our Bring & Share was very successful with all Loretta celebrates her birthday

the customers going to a great effort to bring and bake things. One of our customers, Lorretta, turned 50 in December. She celebrated it by going out in a limousine with friends and then had a party for family and friends the week after!

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FL Providers Retire to the Sun Carole and Keith Archer were Avalon Family Living Providers for over 13 years. Initially they provided support to two brothers in York, moving with them to Scarborough in 2003. In 2007, after careful thought and consideration, they decided to retire as Avalon Providers, and move to Tenerife. Carole recalls the traumatic start to the move; “We had all our things stolen by the removal company and had to pay them £20,000 before they would deliver our crates, - only for them to not deliver them. It felt as if we had paid to be burgled!” Then Carole’s daughter, Fiona, broke her leg leaving the ferry! “She had been going to the doctor’s in Scarborough for 6 months with what we thought was a trapped nerve in her leg, and as it turned out it was lucky she broke it, as the hospital x-rays discovered a disc in her neck that had slipped into her spinal cord. Fiona had to be

operated on immediately or she would have been paralysed for life! I am glad to say she has recovered wonderfully well.” After a shaky start, Carole reports that they are now settling well into life in Granadilla, a little town in the mountains, only 10 minutes from the quiet resort of El Medino. “We brought all our 10 cats & 2 dogs with us & they have settled really well. In fact, I am trying to breed my Persians. The temperature can get up to 40+ degrees, but we must be getting used to the climate because if it drops below 20 degrees we feel really cold! Where we live it is a bit like a hot Austria, we are surrounded by pine forests and yet close to the beaches. In the garden we have an abundance of lemons, oranges & guavas. We also have a mango tree & grapefruit tree, as well as grapes,

strawberries and raspberries, all of which have been fruiting all winter. What I do miss about England though is our murder weekends, my Whittards fruit tea and Boyes haberdashery. Of course, I miss all my family & friends, but having Fiona and our eldest son here, makes it easier. I also miss working with Avalon and would love to be able to do something similar here. When you have spent a quarter of your life looking after someone it is difficult to try to retire! Keith is being kept really busy too and is now known as Mr Honda! If anybody is coming out on holiday to Tenerife, please do look us up, we would love to hear all the news from home. We only have post delivered every 3 weeks and if the postman is on holiday we have to wait until he gets back! Thank goodness for email!”




miss with

Avalon and would love to be able to do


similar here.”

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Talking Avalon

Looking ahead to the Spring!

“E-learning won’t replace classroom training but will be used to refresh and enhance your knowledge”

The beginning of the year is always a thought provoking time for the team. Not only are we tying up all the loose ends of the previous year, but we also need to start planning for the next one. I am currently reviewing all your learning needs gathered by your managers in November 2008. This will enable me to put together the programme of courses for 2009/10. We are very excited to be looking at a new elearning venture which will allow us to develop bespoke training to suit your needs, which you

can complete from the comfort of your own home. We feel confident that blending this type of learning with our current classroom training and distance learning will give you a fantastic range of learning opportunities to suit your schedules. E-learning won’t replace classroom training but will be used to refresh and enhance your knowledge. If you have a particular topic that you think would make a great e-learning course then please email me at

As you know, you currently receive a hard copy of the learning directory. We want to save pennies and trees this year so the full directory will be on the website. We would still like to send out something to you and I would be interested to know what bits you find the most…and least, useful!!! Again, please email your thoughts to the address above.

Formerly Avalon’s Training & Development Department

Julie Colley Inclusive Learning and Development Director

Web Watch This month sees the launch off the 2009 National Training Awards. The National Training Awards are designed to celebrate organisations and individuals that demons t r a t e outstanding business and p e r s o n a l success through investment in training. By recognising best practice, the awards aim to raise awareness and inspire others to invest in learning and development as a route to becoming world class.

I would love to hear from anyone who can think of an individual they would like to nominate. This should be someone who has made a real achievement in their lives from the training they have completed.

If you have someone in mind then please contact Julie Colley.

For more information go to

“The wait was agonising and only the complimentary champagne kept our nerves down to a dull roar.”

The Butterfly Room wins Social Care Oscar!! L to R: Dariella Almeida, Sam Leadbeater, Shelley Atkinson, Julie Colley, Guy Balderson, Katie Peacock and Trevor Hewitt (Learn To Care)

On the 7th November, The Butterfly Room team, along with Customer Facilitator Guy Balderson, wheeled their trolleys into York station to embark on a nail biting trip to London. Our destination – London - to take part in the final of the 2008 Skills for Care Accolades. Hailed as the Oscars of the social care world, we were nominated for the Best In House Training Provider/Assessment Centre. The wait was agonising and only the complimentary champagne kept our nerves down to a dull roar. First we had to sit

down to a scrumptious dinner, followed by coffee. We even met comedienne Helen Lederer who was hosting the event. Our award was the fifth to be announced. It seemed like an eternity as they read out the three finalists…. And then, we heard our name! I am positive that the cheer from our table was the loudest in the room! Anyway, I am proud to say that we won the award, which is testament to the passion, drive and commitment we have to the learning and development of all staff, family living providers, support workers and volunteers.

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Talking Avalon


Inspection Time Again!

Well Done to the following people who have all achieved their LDQ award -Ray Richardson, Sally Kempson, Amanda Farrant, Carrie Moran, Kimberley Wray, Julie Button, Stephanie Clay, Karen Lawton, Thomas Peverley, Kelly Hodges, Leanne Cummings, Denise Yockney, Mark Oliver, Danielle Thorpe, Lucy Hesseldon, Lucy Price, David Careless, Lynn Southworth, Naomi Readman, Jason Chapman, Alan Hesketh, Georgina Smithson, Joanne Marshall, Tracy Corner, Janis Dawson and Margaret Dickson

The Butterfly Room would like to say very well done to the people who were subject to the scrutiny of the External Verifier this month!!

DATABASE UPDATE You may be aware that The Butterfly Room has a designated section of the Avalon HR database to track your training history. It can identify when something is due for renewal, what courses you have booked on…. and cancelled off!!!! It is a really useful tool for all managers to plan and prepare your ongoing learning and development with you. With the help of Su Sinclair we are creating a training handbook on how to use this section of the database. We

hope that the handbook will give people confidence in using the database to enable the process of checking training records to be as straightforward as possible for all involved. If you have any queries about the handbook which will be out soon, please feel free to contact me.

Shelley Atkinson Inclusive Learning and Development Administrator

In the Driving Seat! A fabulous well done to the Butterfly Room’s very own Dariella Almeida who passed her driving test on New Years Eve!

For those of you unaware of the process, twice a year the External Verifier from City & Guilds picks a number of individuals’ work from each award we deliver and samples it to ensure that all of City & Guilds standards and criteria are being met - from candidate induction and assessment, assessor induction and assessment process to internal verifier role and verification. The following people contributed to the inspection in December; Chris Kirby – LDQ award Iris Jones – LDQ award Ian Davison – Candidate for NVQ 2 in Health and Social Care Alison Rich – Candidate for NVQ 2 in Health and Social Care Bev Wilson – Candidate for A1 assessor award Denise Castle – Candidate for Registered Manager’s award Daniel Crane – Assessor for NVQ Sharon Hold – Independent assessor for A1 assessor award Katie Peacock – Assessor for A1 award Julie Colley – Internal Verifier for A1 Assessor award Congratulations Chris, Iris, Ian and Bev on the completion of your awards. Well done……..And a BIG THANK YOU for all of your hard work. Sam Leadbeater, Internal Verifier Co-ordinator “And I would just like to add well done to Sam for all her hard work and organisation to ensure the inspection was a success” Julie Colley

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Talking Avalon

Break Away from the Norm Breakaway, the pioneer that it is, is at a stage where volunteers are coming in from all over the country. That’s a really exciting position to be in, if we think about it. The potential for more people keen on s u p p o r ti n g holiday makers to have a super fun holiday! With so many volunteers and so little time to train – of course we all want to get on that first holiday as quickly as we can! - The Butterfly Room (that’s us!) have partnered with Breakaway to create a fun filled and informative welcome pack for all new volunteers. Our first enquiries have come from volunteers in Scotland. Hang on a minute, you might say, Scotland isn’t exactly next door to Harrogate or any of our regular induction venues. Never fear, my thoughtful reader, we’ve considered that one and come up with a distance learning project that will blow your socks off! Not literally, of course… This distance learning project will adapt to the learner’s requirements putting our training in a format that suits the vo luntee r. Go t a computer? – GREAT! Don’t have a computer? – NO PROBLEM! The only equipment we can’t use

NVQ achievement

is a cassette, which is a little unfortunate but hey, we can still post the printed welcome pack to you. We’re also throwing in trainer support online and over the phone to make sure that volunteers have learning support throughout the process. So, there’s always someone to help if you need it. Current training material in the Welcome Pack contains all the information you’ll need to have a fun and safe holiday while supporting your holiday maker to do the same thing. It’s being reviewed at the moment and is due out shortly! If you have any thoughts or opinions on content we can add to the pack; things you have experienced on holiday and gone ‘Oooh, wish someone had told me that before’ get on the phone to Head Office or email me at: dariellaalmeida uk. We’d love to hear from you!



Inclusive Learning and Development Officer

Well Done to Teesside Team Co-ordinator, Ian Davison, for achieving his NVQ in Health and Social Care and also to York Team Co-ordinator, Bev Wilson, for achieving her A1 assessors Award!!

Customer Newsletter You may be aware that some time ago, we sent out a questionnaire to all of Avalon customers as some individuals had asked about a customer newsletter. We had a great response with over 220 people wanting a newsletter. Most people would like a paper copy with about 10 people requesting electronic copies. Most people wanted both Avalon wide news as well as local news and information. The most popular content requests were news and views, a fun page, problem page and letters. We have a lot of information to get through before we can launch the newsletter and will also be looking at ways in which customers can be involved in the design of the newsletter. So please watch this space for more info!!






with over 220 people wanting a newsletter.”

January News Letter  
January News Letter  

Avalon Group News Letter