Oak Trees benefits from Appleyard Fayre Fundraising Event

Appleyard Fare, which is organised and run by volunteers to raise money for local good causes and charities, held its annual event on 22 July at the Banham Barrel. The Fayre, now in its twelfth year, was attended by about 1000 people from the local and wider community who came together to enjoy a variety of activities and attractions such as local arts and craft demonstrations, musical performances and good food and drink.

Our Oak Trees Respite Service was one of six beneficiaries to receive a share the £16,000 raised and at a ceremony on 4 October, Brian McAllister from the Banham Barrel, presented a cheque for £1,000 to some of our guests and service users.

The money we received will go towards the upkeep of a vehicle recently purchased for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living services to enjoy trips out.

We are delighted to have been chosen as a beneficiary and are looking forward to being involved in next year’s event, which takes place on Saturday 28 July 2018.

Sam, Marcus, Ben and Stephen give Appleyard Fayre the thumbs up at the cheque presentation ceremony.

Blooming marvellous!

The Brandon Day Centre is set to become a riot of colour in 2018 thanks to the generosity of Brandon in Bloom who have donated bulbs to be planted in the grounds by our customers, staff and volunteers for everyone to enjoy.

The bulbs have come about as a result of a successful bid to the ‘Tesco Bags of Help’ Scheme by Brandon in Bloom, which was started by Rachel Sobiechowski, owner of P&R Garden Supplies in Brandon. The project, which received a grant of £3,000 in total, was the brainchild of local businessman Gary Brocklehurst, who’s aim was to plant one bulb for every resident of Brandon. The funding has enabled the purchase of some 26,500 spring flowering Dutch Masters daffodils, crocus, snowdrops, bluebells and wild garlic, to be planted in 32 areas around the town.

Rachel’s aim was to make the town as colourful as possible and attract wildlife, which makes the Brandon Day Centre a perfect setting. We have a small garden to the rear of the building that we hope to develop further to create a pleasant area for our day care customers to sit out when the weather allows. We are also putting up insect ‘hotels’, made by our day centre customers, as well as bird feeders to attract a range of wildlife visitors for all to enjoy.

The bulbs, which were collected by Day Centre Manager Andrea Burgess (pictured above), will be planted shortly in the garden and in pots to the front of the building by our customers, volunteers and staff. When the first flowers begin to emerge in January, they will bring a sense of optimism that winter is nearly over and the longer days and new life that comes with spring is about to begin. With the variety of bulbs being planted and with a bit of tender loving care, the Day Centre will be ablaze with colour from January through to mid-June.

Our customers and staff are truly grateful to be part of this wonderful and worthwhile project. On behalf of the Empanda team and our customers, we would like to thank Brandon in Bloom for your generosity. Your gift will give us all such pleasure next year and for many years to come and we can’t wait to see the fruits of our labour in a few months’ time.

To find out more about Brandon in Bloom’s Bags of Help success, click here

A very special delivery for the Brandon Day Centre

On 16 September, we were delighted to receive a cheque from funds raised by the Bell Hotel Bingo Buddies and the Anglo & American Bikers.

The Brandon Day Centre was nominated by relief driver John Sanders and was one of three organisations receiving a donation from the Charity Run.

The £525 cheque was delivered by a huge convoy of bikes and presented to Day Centre customer Bill Bishop who was accompanied by his wife. After welcoming everyone, Bill explained that the money will be spent on entertainment, activities and outings for people using the Day Centre in Brandon.

A huge thank you to John and his colleagues for organising the Bell Hotel Bingo Buddies Charity Run and for their generosity. And also, to Bill and his wife for representing Empanda and the Day Centre so well.

Empanda becomes a member of UK Men’s Sheds Association

We are delighted to be working on a new project – the creation of a ‘Men’s Shed’ Group in Brandon and as part of the process of getting the Men’s Shed Group up and running, Empanda has joined the Men’s Sheds Association.

Men’s Sheds groups offer socially isolated men a friendly and welcoming meeting place where they can come together to share their skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills or redevelop old ones, and have fun. For more information on Men’s Sheds, go to www.menssheds.org.uk.

It’s early days yet, and whilst we have the ‘shed’ in place, which is located within the grounds of the Brandon Day Centre, we are actively seeking funding opportunities to get the shed equipped and ready to go. We are now recruiting for a volunteer to co-ordinate this exciting new project, as well as volunteers willing to lead groups.

If you, or anyone you know might be interested in helping us turn this aspiration into a reality, then we’d love to hear from you. Please click here for further information.

Empanda’s Community Garden

Thanks to a request on behalf of Empanda by Brandon Town Council chair Peter Callaghan, Brandon Allotment Association has very generously offered Empanda an allotment to operate as a community garden. Situated next to the river, the allotments are surrounded by trees, grassland and an abundance of wildflowers, offering a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of Brandon town.

Ben and Sally, accompanied by Peter Callaghan, met with Les Payne from the Allotment Association at the gardens earlier this week. Les explained that the committee has chosen a plot for Empanda that offers the easiest access for people reliant on wheelchairs or those who may find walking on uneven surfaces difficult.

Whilst the plot looks rather overgrown and wild, it was used as an active allotment up until last year, so the basic structure of beds and paths is there. With some cutting back, weeding and digging – and a lot of tender, loving care, our aim is to breathe new life into this space and transform it into a thriving community garden to be proud of.

Given we have missed this year’s planting season for many fruit and vegetables, in the early months, we will be focusing on preparing the garden and getting the soil ready for next spring. If we succeed in time, we may be able to get some onions, potatoes and Brussels sprouts started as they can be grown over the winter.

Les has very generously made us a bench with storage underneath for garden tools and, along with other allotment users, has offered us tools for our volunteers. Another allotment user has even offered to make us raised beds! Along with the tools, there are wheelbarrows that we can use when working on the allotment and we will benefit from the communal water tanks and a muck heap.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the allotment committee and Les could not have made us feel more welcome. We are truly grateful for their support in helping us make this venture a success.

This is an exciting new project and a tremendous opportunity for Empanda. We are looking forward to recruiting a volunteer co-ordinator to take the lead in managing the community garden. We can then start organising groups of Empanda’s customers and welcoming the people of Brandon, young or old, who would like to spend time in the garden and meet new people, whilst learning new skills. Any produce grown will be used in the community café at the Brandon Day Centre where everyone will be welcome to come and try out the fruits (and vegetables) of our labour.

A dream come true as new vehicle is delivered

Thanks to an amazing level of support and generosity, adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living Services in Attleborough can now enjoy trips out in their newly delivered seven-seater vehicle.

We were very fortunate to receive financial support from the Mildred Tolman Fund, which is managed by the Norfolk Community Foundation. This, together with proceeds from fundraising events, donations from supporters, including local businesses and customers’ family members (who also organised fundraising activities), and top-up funding from Empanda, means we have been able to purchase a nearly new people carrier.

Having a vehicle makes such a difference and gives the people using our learning difficulty services lasting and happy memories of their time spent with us, which is so vitally important to their wellbeing and independence. They are now able to enjoy outings and trips out, including going to the cinema, swimming, bowling, going to restaurants/pubs and shopping trips.

Service users are absolutely delighted and here’s what they had to say on hearing the good news.


“We can reach the places now we haven’t been able to reach for a long time.” 
Ben – Supported Living

“It will be better because it will save me walking.
We can now go out to the seaside and to the pub.”
Julie – Respite Service Guest


“Having a car means more freedom to go out to places and then you can enjoy yourself even more.”
Lee – Supported Living


“From my own point of view it is really, really important for Oak Trees Respite Care to  have a new car to use every day of every year. Because of the fact that both me and all the other guests who come to stay at Oak Trees in Attleborough have not been able to go out anywhere that we would mostly like to go out and about to. It has been like that since April or May 2016 and I kept asking the staff when that would change and they said that they didn’t know which made me feel very upset indeed.

But more importantly, it is a true but very, very special blessing that Oak Trees Respite Care in Attleborough has now got a new vehicle, because that will most certainly mean that there will more days out outside of Attleborough. We can go bowling and to other activities.”
James – Respite Service Guest

We are truly grateful to everyone for your support in making this dream a reality – thank you.

Vehicle fund blossoms thanks to flower demonstration event

When Jane Morgan (mother of Oak Trees Respite Service guest James) heard that Empanda was fundraising for a vehicle for adults with a learning difficulty using our Oak Trees respite and supported living services, she and her mum wasted no time in planning an event to help.

Here, Jane shares her event experience …

“We wanted to put together an event that had real impact and a flower demonstration with afternoon tea was an immediate thought and something we were very familiar with.

With National Flower Demonstrators Melissa Sheldrake and Brenda Tubb offering to get on board free of charge, the event was off to a really good start and the planning of  ‘Name That Tune’ was underway.

Plenty of people came together to offer support including the Headmaster at Hethersett Old Hall School who kindly offered the use of the school barn for the event. All 80 event tickets sold and donations were given to support this worthy cause from those who were unable to attend.

As the event was near Easter weekend, to help boost funds even further, I knitted a number of Easter chicks and ‘eggy people’, all hiding a cream egg. I managed fifty-five items and all sold which was a relief and saved me from eating any leftover cream eggs!

I also gave myself the challenge of making a gingerbread Easter basket which I decorated and filled with chocolate eggs so that people could guess how many eggs it held. The filled basket was the prize. A friend also made a traditional Simnel cake for a ‘guess the weight of the cake’ competition.

The day finally arrives …

After weeks of careful planning, the event was finally upon us. Work started early in the morning for the hectic but enjoyable day ahead. A small army of helpers made sandwiches and cut cakes and I baked scones. The tables were set, the silver teapots stood to attention ready for filling and the cake stands were full.

The flower demonstration was spectacular, with arrangements created to depict different tunes, which the audience were challenged to guess, with a prize for the first correct answer. The arrangements doubled up as raffle prizes. Melissa and Brenda proved to be a very entertaining team and the final display on the stage was spectacular, with so many arrangements created in different styles. I think everyone who had a winning raffle ticket must have been pleased and I can’t thank Melissa and Brenda enough for their generosity. Planning a flower demonstration as ‘a one off’ takes a long time.

Serving afternoon tea was hectic but the team proved to be highly efficient. Robert, who loaned us the silverware, was a master at filling the teapots. He had already marshalled the cars in the carpark earlier in the day and took the role of MC for the afternoon. Multi-tasking is a necessary skill on these occasions!

We had some wonderful comments about the tea. Some people thought they would just get a cup of tea and a piece of cake, not a full meal, but the best comment was from an experienced afternoon tea guest who said “the tea was better than at the Ritz” – praise indeed and made the hard work all worthwhile.

A magnificent total of £1,350 was raised thanks to the support and generosity of so many people. From the ladies who baked and donated the cakes and worked so hard on the day; the people who loaned the china and teapots; Hethersett Old Hall School; Melissa and Brenda the demonstrators; the audience and most importantly, my mum, who was instrumental in selling the tickets as she has all the contacts!

We are really pleased in the knowledge that our contribution will take the fundraising total ever nearer to reaching its target – a new vehicle for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living services to enjoy trips out.

And so to the future …

We are now looking forward to planning further fundraising events to enhance the lives of the people who use Oak Trees. I can’t thank the staff enough for the wonderful service they provide.”

Jane Morgan

Photo gallery


Oak Trees Respite Service scores ‘Good’ with CQC

We are delighted that following our Oak Trees learning difficulty services inspection by The Care Quality Commission (CQC) on 6 April 2017, we have now received their full inspection report. This is the first time we have been inspected under the new inspection regime and the first ever inspection for Empanda.

The actual inspection process started some months ago when we were asked to submit Provider Information Returns, known as PIRs. We were also asked for the contact details of social care, health and other professionals with whom we work, as well as contact details for customers and their family members and email addresses for the staff team. Contact was then made by the CQC Inspector, with many or all of the people we listed so that she could gain a lot of background information and feedback before she actually came out to meet with us. It also gave her the opportunity to ask any questions arising from the feedback when she came out to inspect the services in April.

The inspection day started just before 10am and concluded just after 7pm. Throughout the day the inspector met and talked with many of the team, our respite care guests and some of our supported living service users too.

Having now received the final report, we are really pleased with our score which is an overall ‘Good’ and a score of ‘Good’ for each of the 5 areas on which we were inspected:

Is the service safe?
Is the service effective?
Is the service caring?
Is the service responsive?
Is the service well-led?

With the scoring options being ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’, to achieve ‘Good’ across the board is an excellent result and given we are viewed as a new provider, we don’t think we could have hoped for any more in our first inspection.

We confess to being just a little disappointed that we didn’t score ‘Outstanding’ in a couple of the areas, especially when the feedback the inspector received was so positive and we know how hard the team have worked to get the service to where it is today. However, despite the fact we have worked together as a team for many years and Kerrie Good has been the Registered Manager at Oak Trees for a very long time, we are viewed by the CQC as a brand new care provider and therefore we don’t believe they would have awarded us the highest score on our very first inspection.

The fact we achieved this positive outcome shows just what a great job the Oak Trees team is doing and how much the services are valued by our customers, partners, referring agencies, families and commissioners. All our customers spoke very highly of the service they received and that’s what really matters.

Having set the bar high in our first inspection, we need to start planning and working towards achieving the elusive ‘Outstanding’ next time the CQC inspect!

Well done to the Oak Trees team and thank you for all you do to make the services we provide special.

Disco boosts Oak Trees vehicle fundraising efforts

Following on from a very successful Jumble Sale last month, a further £312.50 was raised by Oak Trees staff, guests, tenants, friends, family and supporters at a disco held on Saturday 13 May.

The event, which took place at Attleborough Town Hall and attended by about 80 people, was part of a series of fundraising projects to raise money for a second-hand people-carrier for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living Services.

With a free raffle ticket as part of the ticket price, everyone had the opportunity to win one of the many great raffle prizes, most of which were donated by local businesses and supporters – a huge thank you to everyone who gave so generously.

After tucking in to a jacket-potato supper, the focus turned to the dance floor and to the disco beats from across the decades. It was fantastic to see so much boundless energy and enthusiasm being displayed on the dance floor and everyone having so much fun.

A huge thank you to Community Support Worker Marie Marsh and her colleagues from Oak Trees, who worked tirelessly to ensure the disco was a roaring success, from the planning, right through to tidying up at the end of the evening – you did a brilliant job, well done.

Our next disco, being held on Saturday 14 October 2017, will be Halloween themed and takes place at the Attleborough Town Hall. If you’d like to support us by donating a raffle prize, please give us a call on 01953 457360. We would love to hear from you.

If you’d like to join us on 14 October for an evening of fun and good music, entry is £5.00, payable on the door, and includes a free raffle ticket.

The amount raised on Saturday brings our fundraising total so far, to £5,109.16, taking us a few steps closer to buying a vehicle for those using our learning difficulty services to enjoy – brilliant!


Oak Trees Jumble Sale is a huge success

Following months of preparation, hard work and dedication from staff and supporters of Oak Trees, £1,108.14 was raised at the Oak Trees Jumble Sale, which took place in Attleborough on Saturday 22 April.

The jumble sale, which was the brainchild of Community Support Worker, Marie Marsh, was one of the projects currently being worked on to raise money for a much needed, second-hand people-carrier so that adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living Services can enjoy trips out.

Marie worked tirelessly in the lead-up to the event to ensure it was well publicised and that stalls were fully stocked. Lots of staff and families of service users contributed clothing, bric-a-brac and soft furnishings to ensure the sale was a success.

Final preparations and setting up started early on Saturday morning, and it was a pleasure to see guests and tenants working alongside staff, parents and family members on the various stalls.

A huge thank you goes to Marie for organising the event so well, and to everyone who played a part in making the day such a success, from those who donated and bought goods, to the cake-bakers, refreshment providers and stallholders, as well as the organisations and individuals who gave financial donations. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Our minds are now focussed on the Oak Trees disco, which is being held at the Attleborough Town Hall on 13 May. If you’d like to support us by donating a raffle prize, or would like to purchase tickets for the event, please give us a call on 01953 457360. We would love to hear from you.

The amount raised at the Jumble Sale brings our fundraising total so far, to £4,796.66, taking us a few steps closer to buying a vehicle for those using our learning difficulty services to enjoy – brilliant!

Event photo gallery

James on books and CDs
Amy and Marie on bric-a-brac








Helen, Ben, Christina and Jane on clothing
Liam on tombola








Kelly on cakes and chocolate apples
Visitors busy bagging a bargain!








Scrumptious and beautifully presented cakes
Beautifully made chocolate apples