During these difficult times it is more important than ever that we maintain and improve our health and mental wellbeing. Whether we pay more attention to the outdoors, take up a new hobby or volunteer our time, there are numerous things we can do to brighten our spirit and improve our health. This section aims to give a few ideas, information on local initiatives and useful links that can help you do this. Many events and activities are not possible in lockdown but with gradually easing of restrictions and some semblance of normality they may be so in the future. As always follow Government guidelines in whatever you do.
The Great Outdoors
Exercise does not have to be arduous. We are fortunate that within walking distance of the village there are numerous open spaces, meadows, and a nature reserve that we can all enjoy. Walking improves cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and helps with mental stress. A regular 30 minutes’ walk every day is not only good exercise but can lift your mood.
King George V and Stanlake Meadow
These areas are well known to most of us, but have you checked out the fitness trail (wear gloves and bring hand sanitizer) at Stanlake Meadow or the wildflower area in KGV? You do not need a dog to go walking so make the most of our green spaces as part of your daily exercise routine.
Charvil Meadows and Charvil Country Park
Charvil Meadows bordering the River Loddon can be found just past Prince Bros on the Old Bath Road or accessible via Edwards Road, Charvil. Check out the wildflowers, birds – you may see herons, swans, geese, and red kites swooping overhead – and the occasional muntjac. There are several paths to follow but if you keep on the main path over a charming little bridge and straight ahead you will end up on the not so charming A4, but turn right, cross the road and maybe visit Riverways farm for fresh eggs and reindeer spotting.
Charvil Country Park
Charvil Country Park covers 75 hectares and can be found in the lower Loddon Valley between Twyford and Charvil accessible via Park Lane, Old Bath Road, Vale View and East Park Farm Drive. Walk through grassland, around the lakes and watch out for swans, coots, geese, herons, egrets, cormorants, and wild bunnies hopping through the grass. It is also the home for two rare plants – the Loddon Lily and the Loddon Pondweed.
Angling (membership only) is also available here. Pike, Bream, Tench and Carp can be found in the lake or in the river, Barbel, Chub and Perch. For more information on what Charvil Country Park can offer, view their nature trail booklet.
Loddon Nature Reserve
Accessed from the Wagon and Horses car park or Silk Lane, it takes approximately 30 minutes to walk round the lake – or longer depending on how often you stop and stare. You can also take the path under the railway bridge towards Dinton Pastures. As well as the usual suspects, crested grebe and cormorants are sometimes seen here and there is a handy bird spotting information board by the lake.
The Joys of Gardening
Gardening has a hugely powerful and positive impact on both physical and mental health but allotment gardening can also provide the additional benefits of social contact which helps combat isolation and loneliness and encourages you to feel part of a community by sharing experiences and advice.
There are many aspects of gardening from simply growing cress on a kitchen windowsill, to cultivating artichokes to zucchinis and asters to zinnias in an allotment or garden setting. All require patience and various degrees of nurturing and conservation. The journey from the planning stages to reaping the rewards can generate excitement, a sense of ownership and achievement and help to raise self-esteem and boost confidence whilst lowering stress and anxiety. And even better you get to eat the fruits of your labour!
Gardening can promote inspiration and imagination, connecting and contributing to nature and wildlife. Important life skills can be learnt regardless of age, ability, and background.
As plants grow, thrive, and succeed, so can people whether you have a window box, garden or allotment make the most of it.
For further information on allotments visit the Twyford Allotments website.
Dinton Pastures Country Park
A long walk from Twyford maybe but get on your bike or take the car and enjoy the numerous lakes and walks around this lovely park. Although many of the facilities are closed at the moment you can still enjoy the scenery and check out the walking trails on offer at Dinton Pastures Country Park.
Twyford Tennis Club
Twyford Tennis Club is in King George V recreation ground. The club caters for all ages and abilities and there are three floodlit tennis courts. For more information and membership details go to the Twyford Tennis Club’s website. even if you’ve never played tennis before now could be the chance to learn a new sport and get fit.
Twyford Comets Football Club
Founded in 1972, Twyford Comets Football Club provides a safe and friendly footballing environment to the local community. The club, before lockdown, had up to 20 teams most weekends playing in various local leagues, from under 7 all the way up through the junior age groups to adult football. They also cater for younger children with the Saturday morning Mini-Comets soccer school which meets at King George V recreation ground, providing a fun and excellent start to the game before moving into organised league football. For more information about the club and volunteer opportunities go to the Twyford Comets website.
The club have also set up a fun lockdown feel good video (Keeping it Up!)
Twyford and Ruscombe Cricket Club
Twyford and Ruscombe Cricket Club welcomes cricketers of all ages and abilities. Before lockdown they ran a side in the Berkshire League Division 2 on Saturdays and had a full programme of adult friendlies on Sundays. They also ran youth teams for boys and girls from under 7 (Year 1) to under 15 level (up to and including Year 10) as well as coaching and indoor and outdoor practice and net sessions. For further information visit the Twyford and Ruscombe Cricket Club website.
And don’t forget to check out the Snooker Hall in Wargrave Rd or the Bowling Club opposite when lockdown is eased.
Twyford Together is a group of volunteers who want to make the village even better than it is. They put on events, such as the Fun Run, and aim to bring businesses and community together.
A diverse range of people volunteer from commuters to business owners, students, and retired people. They are involved in a wide range of initiatives including Twyford in Bloom, Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Fayre, and the Village Awards. They also produce leaflets of walks around the village. Twyford Together always welcome new volunteers who are willing to give up their time to help manage or organise village events or help people who need it. For more information and for a comprehensive list of clubs and other local organizations visit the Twyford Together website.
Twyford Covid 19 Support Group
This volunteer group supports the vulnerable and elderly in Twyford and surrounding areas. It was set up in the middle of March as we went into lockdown and has around 840 registered volunteers on its Facebook page.
The village was broken up into Zones with co-ordinators for each with volunteers allocated according to where they live. Communication across the Zones was set up on WhatsApp with dedicated centralised contact details for anyone in need. These details were distributed via two leaflet drops across the village.
Guidelines were established and distributed to all volunteers. Training was given via the Wokingham Council online safeguarding course and ID Badges produced so you know who you are dealing with.
Hundreds of people have been helped with shopping. prescription collections and deliveries and all sorts of requests such as removing a bed so that a hospital bed could be installed in someone’s home. It is also a focal point for those doing other great work such as collecting donations for delivery to key workers or making masks or just sharing relevant information.
For help or assistance as a result of COVID-19 call 07377 226 835 or email [email protected]
Food Banks and their volunteers
It’s not ‘charity’, it’s ‘solidarity’ – a volunteer’s experience
The Covid 19 emergency has highlighted the role of volunteering in the community as demands for help have vastly increased since the beginning of 2020. However, volunteering has been around a lot longer and covers a multitude of activities and without people giving freely of their time many aspects of our community life would suffer. As services have increasingly come under pressure volunteering has grown in social care areas. One of these has seen the growth of foodbanks to help those who temporarily or over the longer-term struggle to find the means to access food.
There are several foodbank charities operating in the area. I’ve been volunteering at the Maidenhead Foodshare http://foodshare.today/ for the past two years and I’d like to give you a bit more insight into what’s going on there. It has been operating out of the New Market in King Street for several years now and has been run by a group of incredibly dedicated and committed individuals who are effectively doing two jobs to provide meals to families, the homeless schools and through other institutions. I just do a few hours a week, shelf stacking, packing bags or other general help to support them. But they are grateful for all help both large and small as well as the crucially important food donations from businesses and individuals.
Covid 19 has created huge challenges for the organisation, both in the numbers who have needed help, how that help is accessed and the management of volunteers.
First the number of service users has nearly trebled during the emergency. Over 800 people are being directly helped in the area now.
Second, when lockdown occurred, Foodshare had to switch to home delivery which meant organising around 200 car journeys per week. It has also meant that the drop-in café for the homeless had to be suspended. Its only recently, as lockdown has eased, that Foodshare has been able to revert to a walk-in service which is now delivered from the old Argos store in the Nicholson Centre which has been added to the foodbank operation.
Third, the organisation and activities of the volunteers has had to change. The premises at New Market have always been cramped but with the need for social distancing it became impossible to have the usual 10 to 16 casual volunteers in a session and this was scaled back to 3 or 4 pre-agreed people.
The foodbank has moved to a shift system and the addition of the old Argos store has meant that more volunteers can help in any one session. The donated PPE is excellent and as the paramount need is to stop the virus from closing the operation the safety procedures which keep users and food donators separate from the volunteers are stringent.
For the future, it is unlikely that pressures on people will decrease in the coming years and foodbanks will continue to bear the brunt of the food poverty crisis in the UK. We must not assume that everything will be fine once the pandemic recedes. We will need to continue to donate and volunteer and remember, going back to ‘normal’ means a huge level of need regardless. For the champions who drive the operation, there will be no time to draw breath.
During the Covid-19 crisis we are all having to deal with changes to our everyday lives and that some of us may need help. Whether it is difficulty accessing food or other essentials, requiring specific information, or feeling lonely and depressed, the Wokingham Borough Community Response (WBCR) can support those who are in need of extra help at this time. They are working in partnership with town and parish councils, voluntary groups, community organisations and charities, neighbourhoods and individuals to provide borough-wide support. Detailed information can be found at Wokingham Borough Council’s website.
ARC is an organisation that gives a confidential counselling service. They offer this service to anyone who needs counselling, young or old, in a warm, comfortable, and safe environment.
Although at the moment ARC are unable to offer face to face support due to the crisis, they can provide online counselling to Twyford residents. For further details and contacts visit ARC’s website which provides a great deal of local and national information that can be helpful to parents and young people. They also provide useful factsheets on topics such as bullying, anxiety and drug and substance abuse.
Dealing with loneliness
Although restrictions have eased many of us are finding it hard to connect with family and friends – particularly those who do not have access to social media or communication tools like Zoom. Or some people might have felt lonely even before lockdown. The charity Mind has a lot of useful information on coping with loneliness. Although they, like many organisations right now, may not be able to give face to face advice there are many useful tips and coping mechanisms on their website: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/about-loneliness/
TwyForward 2020 Arts & Crafts Festival
This is an initiative set up Twyford Parish Council to gather Twyford’s experiences and thoughts during the crisis. Twyford is looking forward to building on the positives achieved during this strange time. It is a good opportunity to dust off your hobby skills, put pen to paper, generally get creative and boost your positivity.
Memories can be any form and any medium for instance:
- Writing – diary excerpts, stories, poems
- Paintings and drawings
- Songs, music, and dance
- Photographs and video clips
We plan, in time, to hold a celebration exhibition in the village showing all your contributions. There is no age limit and contributions are welcome from all. To submit your work or for more information visit the TwyForward section.