A Different Day
Wednesday 10 August 2016

Elm Tree Farm Nursery TeamDespite being the main course for bloodsucking insects and having aching bones as I write this, I’m still a big fan of the new Brandon work scheme 'A Different Day', which encourages office-based staff to get out and spend a day working alongside people we support and their staff teams.

There are a number of reasons why I am an advocate, so hopefully my ramblings will encourage others to take up the offer.

I ditched the office gear for shorts and a Brandon T-shirt and spent a sunny day with Julie and the guys at Elm Tree Farm Nursery in Stapleton, Bristol.

After introductions, I was put to work clearing weeds and collecting fallen apples in the duck pond area of the Farm as part of a small team. It gave me an early chance to see the skills of our frontline staff in engaging and encouraging those supported within the service, something evident throughout my day. Unfortunately, the insects found me tasty too!

As it happened, I shared my day with someone else new to the Farm, Craig, who was trialling the service having recently finished school. It was great to see how he was made to feel so welcome and flourish as the day went along. A highlight was to see how happy his family were when they came to pick him up and heard how well he'd got on. Smiles all round.

Later, I teamed up with Adam, a young Bristol man with learning disabilities who goes to the Farm a few days each week. We were on grass cutting duties for the afternoon. He has a love of sport and music, so we had long chats about the Rio Olympics and songs as we tackled the mowing. We talked about our families and shared a proud high five when we’d completed the cutting, but I’m glad he was in charge of the mower as the controls confused me.

During lunch, it was good to learn more about the background of those using the nursery and the service itself, while I also shared aspects of my work and advice on how the communications team could help them in future. Note to self; I must learn Makaton and sign language as I felt a bit clumsy having to wait for staff to help me in conversation with everyone at the table. Something I did learn, however, is that they would love a new lawnmower as their own broke a little while ago (it wasn’t me!). They currently borrow one from another part of the Farm.

An enjoyable day went quickly. I know I took a lot away from it and hopefully I gave something useful in return. There’s an open invite to Adam and the others to come and say hello to me when they’re next at head office, where they can see me in my regular role!

Footnote for Brandon Trust staff: Information on the A Different Day scheme can be found in July’s issue of News 2U on the intranet.

Tim Gray
PR & Social Media Manager