My first visit to Ravenswood

5 March 2018

By Janine Stein, Copywriter.

I started with Norwood in the Marketing department as a copywriter a month ago. It was just before the annual dinner, and my first assignment was to work on the pledges cards. Those are the little messages that encourage people to donate money by explaining what donations are used for. For example, £200 will pay for new learning resources and toys in our three family centres £400 will pay for a multi-disciplinary assessment for an at-risk child £1,000 will provide a course of hydrotherapy sessions for wheelchair users etc. etc.

As I honed those messages down into useable word counts, I realized I had no idea what those benefits really meant.  As a Norwood newbie, I desperately needed to get out of Stanmore Broadway, and see the bigger picture for myself. My first visit was to Ravenswood.  After a long drive, lunch at the Café was very welcome. It was a friendly place with delicious food and a cosy atmosphere.  Clearly people enjoyed working there.

We were then taken on the walking tour of the site which includes thirteen different care homes, an activity centre, a hydrotherapy pool and a horse-riding centre. But it was the things not on the tour that really stood out.  I noticed a London bus was waiting to take excited residents and staff on a trip.  There was a man who was industriously sweeping in the horse-riding centre as if he owned it.  Another man came by to pick up the mail from head office, with a proper postbag and trolley to deliver it around the site.  I noticed pedestrians had right of way in a largely car-free site.

While chatting to Julia Hall, Head of Adult services, in her office, I noticed many smiling faces popping up in the glass pane in the door. They clearly wanted to come in for a chat. Julia knew everyone by name, their stories, histories and preferences. She knew who had asked who on a date, whose birthday it was, who likes helping with the mucking out of the horses, whose sister visits, who needed extra helping with dealing with the death of a parent. She knew who needed encouragement to come to the disco, and who preferred a quiet night in.  She was kind, knowledgeable and respectful. She cared about the residents. In fact, everybody I spoke to did. And the more I get to speak to people in the wider Norwood family, the more impressed I am.

In the end I have learned that while £1000 will pay for a course of hydrotherapy sessions for wheelchair users, in reality, what Norwood people do is priceless.