Do a Good Deed for Dorset’s Disability Community this Volunteers’ Week

Diverse Abilities is inviting local people to an open morning at its special school, Langside, from 10am until 12pm next Thursday (5 June) to celebrate National Volunteers Week – an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution volunteers make across the UK, taking place next week from 1 – 7 June.

The aim of the open morning is to thank the charity’s current volunteers, showcase the school’s new sensory garden, which was created by a group of corporate supporters, and give people ideas on how easy it is to get involved with Diverse Abilities and volunteer to make a difference to local people with disabilities.

Those that attend the event will be able to enjoy some refreshments while wandering around the garden or chatting to the charity’s staff, people it supports or current volunteers. Tours of Langside School, which provides education to 28 children from the ages of two to 19 who have special educational needs and physical difficulties, will also be available on the day.

National Volunteers’ Week is an annual event which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and at the open morning Diverse Abilities will be asking people in Dorset to get involved and pledge just 30 minutes of their time to the charity.

Sarah Harrison, Volunteer and Recruitment Manager, at Diverse Abilities, said: “In just 30 minutes you can actually achieve quite a lot that can really help the charity and the people it supports. For example – plant a seed for one of our adults we support’s garden, undertake some research online for our central office, bake some cakes to help raise funds or distribute some collection pots or leaflets in your local area… these are just a few ideas and there are many more!”

Currently 100 individuals in the Dorset community volunteer for the charity, plus a number of local businesses including Barclays, LV=, Nationwide and Bournemouth University, who volunteer on a project basis. Based on these volunteers providing an average of two hours of their time every month, the value of this contribution each year is in excess of £25,000, which is very important for a not-for-profit organisation such as Diverse Abilities.

Diverse Abilities Plus sees its volunteer base as a core asset in leading the organisation towards its goals and all volunteers are treated with respect and appreciation of the contribution they make. By volunteering with the charity individuals can build upon their skills and knowledge and are encouraged to be creative and innovative. The charity assists them to achieve their full potential within their appointed role and a personal or professional gain from their involvement.

Sarah added: “We are strongly supporting Volunteers’ Week as there are many benefits to volunteering and getting involved in the local community. No matter what your age or ability, there will be something that is perfect for you. We hope many people come along to our open morning and see what difference they can make to children and adults with disabilities.”

If you would like to attend the event or find out more information, please contact Sarah on 01202 718266 or email

Brand New Sensory Garden at Langside School is Officially Open!

Children, parents and staff at Langside School, an independent, non-maintained, special day school run by Dorset charity Diverse Abilities, celebrated the official opening of a brand new sensory garden this week thanks to the hard work of volunteers from Barclays, ISS Landscaping and MA Hart plus donations of materials from Gibbs & Dandy and New Milton Sand & Ballast.

The sensory garden has been a six month project to rejuvenate the outside area at the school, which provides education to 28 children from the ages of two to 19 who have special educational needs and physical difficulties, often with complex medical conditions.

Volunteers from the local businesses started from scratch to revamp the area for the children to enjoy ready for this summer by clearing plants, weeds and mounds of undergrowth before moving onto digging up the garden, setting concrete borders and planting sensory plants and installing sensory items that the children can easily reach when they visit the garden.

The garden was completed with a sensory arch at the entrance to the area, which was kindly donated by the Barclays team. David Wilson, the Director of Infrastructure at Barclays Global Payments, officially opened the new garden area alongside parents and children from the school and said: “As a major employer in the Dorset region, Barclays – in conjunction with its corporate partners – has an incredibly strong community programme and I am very proud of the efforts of all 25 of the volunteers in creating something very special for such a worthwhile cause.”

Jon Seaward, School Principal, said: “The transformation of the sensory garden is just astonishing and we can’t wait to see the children benefiting from all the efforts made from all our fantastic volunteers this summer.”

Sarah Harrison, Volunteer Recruitment Manager, said: “We can’t thank everyone enough for the fantastic work that has been undertaken at Langside School. The area looks fabulous and we want to say a massive thank you to every single volunteer for their efforts and enthusiasm.”

Diverse Abilities is always on the lookout for volunteers to help out on projects that will further fulfil the lives of adults and children with disabilities in Dorset. Please contact Sarah Harrison on 01202 718266 or email if you would like to get involved and donate some of your spare time.

Siân Braves New Heights for Charity

Siân Walker, 22 from Bournemouth, braved new heights and skydived 10,000 feet out of a plane over the Wiltshire countryside in aid of Diverse Abilities last week and raised £470 for the charity that supports over 600 adults and children with disabilities in Dorset.

Siân, who also works in the charity’s supported living service, said: “I have always wanted to skydive and being able to do one and raise money for Diverse Abilities was great. I see where the money raised, through events and other activities, makes a difference to the adult, and children we support so it is great to know the money I have fundraised will further help the charity.

She added: “The skydive experience was amazing and from the moment I put my jumpsuit on I was excited. The free-fall was incredible and very surreal but the whole experience was extremely special as I was doing it for a charity I am very close to.”

Cheering Siân along on the day were Pete, Jeff and Hewson, who she supports as part of her support assistant role at Diverse Abilities. All three men use the supported living service the charity offers, which enables adults who have a disability to live in their own home, and live in the way they choose with the support of a dedicated team.

Diverse Abilities is on the lookout for daring individuals to sign up for an exciting skydive challenge on Sunday 11 October 2014. Participants can choose from either a 10,000 or 15,000 foot jump where they will be attached to a professional skydiver from the airfield’s flight team, who have been recognised as one of the best skydiving teams in the country.

All participants can jump for FREE, providing the minimum sponsorship of £395 is with the charity ten days prior to the jump date. There is a deposit entry fee payable of £50 at the time of booking the skydive, which you can recoup from the charity after your skydive. Alternatively, if you cannot make our event date, you can of course still book a skydive with the charity for any day of the year – apart from Christmas Day.

For more information on Diverse Abilities and for details regarding the skydiving opportunities please contact Sharon Wells by e-mailing or call 01202 718266.

Poole Ark’s Tux Takes On Charity 110ft Abseil

The Ark’s resident penguin, Tux, is braving new heights and taking on the Diverse Abilities ‘Harbourview 110ft Abseil’, overlooking Poole Harbour, on Sunday 8 June.

Tux is encouraging more local people to join him and take part to raise vital funds for the services the Dorset charity runs supporting over 600 children and adults with disabilities in Dorset.

All the staff at The Ark, located in Poole Park, are raising funds to support Tux and are asking any adrenaline seeking children and adults to take part alongside the loveable penguin and support him.

By taking part in this event, fundraisers will experience an invigorating challenge and get a huge buzz from the excitement of the descent, while raising money for the charity to provide invaluable support to the people it works with across the wide range of services. To take part in the ‘110ft Harbourview Abseil’, no experience is necessary – just lots of enthusiasm!

From the top of the abseil venue participants will be able to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Poole Harbour. Those daring to take the challenge will be harnessed up and trained by a team of professional and highly skilled abseil instructors, who will ensure that those taking part are equipped with the knowledge and training to make their abseil safe and as enjoyable as possible.

Tux said: “I’m starting to get a little nervous, but also very excited as I’ve always wanted to do an abseil. I hope that many more people sign up so we raise lots of funds for Diverse Abilities.”

To take part in the abseil, the minimum age is eight, and those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The entry fee is £10 and each participant is kindly asked to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100. A special discount is applicable for teams of four, with the entry fee at £30 per team.

To sign up or find out further information, please contact Sharon Wells or Lottie Forte by calling 01202 718266 or via e-mail at

For more information regarding Diverse Abilities please visit the Facebook page at

Diverse Abilities Awards Recognise Inspiring People

Diverse Abilities has launched its first ‘Thank You Awards’ to acknowledge the inspirational people that are connected to the Dorset-based charity that supports children and adults with profound learning and physical disabilities in the county.

The Thank You Awards took place at Barnabas, the charity’s adult opportunities service in Poole with special guests – children’s TV presenter Chris Jarvis, who gave out the awards, and Cherries legend Steve Fletcher.

Winners included 13-year-old Josh Faramus, who has autism and learning disabilities, but continues to fund raise for the charity which has supported him for ten years. He received the award for “a child we support who’s achieved something remarkable”.

Lawrence Godfrey, who has been supported by the charity for more than 20 years, received the award for the “adult we support who’s achieved something remarkable” for losing two-and-a-half stone, while Tineke Knight received the Lifetime Achievement award after recently retiring from the charity where she worked at Langside School for more than 20 years.

Sandy Ranu received the Individual Volunteer of the Year award, after volunteering at 12 events during 2013, Hannah Fielding won the Individual Fundraiser of the Year award after raising £5,000 in a sponsored skydive for the charity, and Simon Shave, who is supported by Diverse Abilities, received the Outstanding Voluntary Contribution award for his work volunteering.

Emma Wray, who supports Simon, was recognised as the “staff member who’s gone above and beyond”, while a volunteer team from Barclays and the team at Haskins were presented with corporate awards for their support of the charity.

Charlotte Curtis, the charity’s head of business resources, said: “We see the great job that our staff do day-in day-out, how committed our volunteers and supporters are to the charity and the achievements that the people we support accomplish and therefore wanted to express how thankful we are to them all for being such inspirational people.”

For more information regarding Diverse Abilities please call 01202 718266.

Dorset Disability Charity Backs Action on Stroke Month

Advice service Disability Wessex, run by Dorset charity Diverse Abilities, is backing this month’s Action on Stroke campaign by calling out to those in the local area to be more mindful of mini-stroke or TIA (transient ischaemic attack) symptoms.

The Stroke Association reports that every year at least 46,000 people in the UK have a TIA or mini-stroke for the first time and although the symptoms do not last long, it is very serious as it is a sign that the person is at risk of having a stroke.

Disability Wessex is backing the campaign by stressing the importance of understanding the warning signs of a stroke and being prepared for the future by organising a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), before it’s too late.

Disability Wessex is recommending that local people create and register a LPA sooner rather than later as a stroke, and potentially many other illnesses or accidents, can cause the inability to make major decisions in your life, for example – managing finances, deciding on health treatments, where to live or be cared for. Therefore creating a LPA ensures your wishes are abided by and a family member(s) or trusted friend(s) can make decisions on your behalf just in the case an accident or illness occurs.

Nikki Haswell, Advice Manager at Disability Wessex, said: “Experiencing a stroke can cause a loss of mental capacity and can occur at any age, even in your 20s! If you have a stroke you may lose the ability to make decisions yourself so even if you haven’t received the warning signs yet, it is a good idea to get organised and register an LPA so the people you choose can make the decisions about your life you would want them to.”

Disability Wessex is on hand to offer advice regarding LPAs and can also create and register the document. The service is not-for-profit but does make a charge for its service, although it is considerably cheaper than most solicitors.

Nikki added: “If you experience an illness or accident and an LPA has not been created, your family will need to apply to the court for a deputyship and this is much more complicated, a longer process and more expensive. Therefore it is a benefit to you and your family to create an LPA now!”

For further information or to book an appointment, please contact, the Advice Service on 0300 3305514.

For more information on Action on Stroke month visit

LV= Volunteers Brave the Wet Weather to Make a Difference to Charity School

Children at charity run Langside School in Poole will now be able to enjoy their garden area even more this summer thanks to a team of 21 volunteers from LV= in Bournemouth.

The volunteers braved the wet weather and spent a whole day renovating the wildlife garden by reconditioning the rockery, repairing paving and replanting flowers and plants. They also created a brand new sensory garden area for the younger children, painted some woodwork and made a new balustrade for the decking area. LV= contributed £250 worth of materials for the project.

Samantha Preece, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at LV=, said: “I’m delighted to see how hard the LV= team has worked to create the sensory garden at Langside School. I hope the children and staff will enjoy using the space for years to come.”

Sarah Harrison, Volunteer Recruitment Manager, said: “We can’t thank LV= volunteers enough for the fantastic work that was undertaken at Langside School. The area looks great and we want to say a massive thank you to every single volunteer for their efforts on the day.”

Langside is an independent, non-maintained, special day school run by Diverse Abilities, Dorset’s disability charity, and provides education to 28 children from the ages of two to 19 who have special educational needs and physical difficulties, often with complex medical conditions.

Diverse Abilities is looking to recruit volunteers to work on various projects in the future. Please contact Sarah Harrison on 01202 718266 or email if you would like to get involved.


Condor Ferries raises £800 for Diverse Abilities Plus

Condor Ferries today presented a cheque for £800 to the Dorset-based disability charity Diverse Abilities, following fundraising at its recent open day.

Over 3,000 visitors were welcomed on board the fast ferry Condor Express for the open day – held last month – which saw generous visitors dig deep into their pockets for the fundraising activities including competitions, raffles and collection tins.

The open day was held at Poole Quay for a day of free fun for all the family during the Easter holidays and as part of Condor Ferries’ 50th anniversary celebrations. Condor Express was decorated with gold balloons and bunting, and visitors were invited to take part in themed activities on board, including a 50th anniversary quiz as part of its fundraising efforts.

Earlier today at the charity’s special school, Langside, in Poole, Alicia Andrews, Sales and Marketing Director at Condor Ferries, presented the cheque to Fiona Hansford, Diverse Abilities’ Corporate & Community Manager.

Alicia Andrews commented: “We would like to thank all the visitors for their generous contributions which have made it possible for us to present this cheque to Diverse Abilities Plus today. We know how important the charity is to the people of Dorset, and we are proud, as a local business ourselves, to support that.”

Fiona Hansfordadded: “Thank you so much to Condor Ferries for supporting Diverse Abilities at their recent Open Day. The money raised will make a real difference to the people we support. As an example, it could fund 16 two hour play sessions for a child with disabilities to enjoy whilst fully supported by trained support workers. Amazing!”

Diverse Abilities is the only charity that has been supporting children and adults with profound physical and learning disabilities in Dorset for 59 years. The charity provides a range of assistance, support and education services for young people aged two to 19, adults with disabilities, and their families.

To find out more visit