Since 1999 BHPT has initiated a wide variety of projects and activities for the benefit of the local community. Here are just a few examples to illustrate the range of our work. Also see What’s On for information about many of our current activities.
Around the time of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in June 2002, we were talking with residents at Perry House sheltered housing scheme about their memories of the Coronation. Hearing them reminisce about the last fifty years led us to start thinking of ways in which they may be able to share their memories with a wider audience and particularly with children. We knew that Mrs King, the recently appointed Headteacher at St Peter’s C of E Primary School in Burnham, was keen to develop the school’s links with the wider community and so the idea to link the school with Perry House was born. Plans for the Project were developed in partnership with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning who for several years provided a tutor to assist with the weekly sessions.
Since 2002 about 250 children and about 40 older people have taken part in the Project. With a difference in age of over eighty years between the youngest and oldest members, the Project helps history come alive for the children as the Perry House residents share their memories of the local area, their school days and their war time experiences. The Project also provides an opportunity for the children and older people to learn together through a variety of activities, discussions, games and quizzes. The enthusiasm of both the children and the older people to be a part of this project is evidence of its success. There are a lot of shared jokes and laughter and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal with the older people always making the children feel welcome.
Watching the relationships develop across the generations is wonderful and over the years some firm friendships have formed between some of the older and younger members.
Comments from Children
Here are few of the comments from the children about their visits to Perry House:
“It was really fun coming to Perry House. Thank you.”
“We learn new things and it helps build a better link between elderly people and children”
“I have had a fantastic time at Perry House, I love visiting and have made a lot of new friends… It was one of the best things we have been allowed to do in Year 5 and 6.”
“I liked going to Perry House because you got to make friends with people who you don’t know and you can talk to them if you’re sad or upset. I would love to go back to Perry House because you learn stuff and you’re being a good friend to someone you don’t know and if you see them in the street you can say hello to them”.
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In October 2009, inspired by “Strictly Come Dancing” we held our first dance class in Burnham. We had previously carried out some local surveys and were surprised at how many adults said they were interested in Ballroom and Latin dancing. We were aware that at that time there were no daytime dance classes in Burnham and so we found a teacher and a hall and were delighted when 21 people attended on the first week. We continued to run classes until July 2012 by which time many people had been attending for two or three years and were really enjoying both the opportunity to dance each week and the social aspect of the classes. So from September 2012 we decided to change the format to a Tea Dance. We continue to meet at Burnham Park Hall on Thursdays in term time from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. You can come on your own or with a partner. The cost is £5 to include tea or coffee and biscuits and an experienced dance teacher is always on hand to help.
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In 2005 the Trust learnt that Burnham’s only public toilets were under imminent threat of closure and demolition. The District Council had decided to withdraw its financial support for public toilets leaving it up to the local parishes to take over responsibility if they chose to do so. Burnham Parish Council had voted not to fund the toilets. The loss of the toilets would have serious repercussions for many local people, particularly the elderly and parents with small children, who relied on the toilets when visiting the High Street shops.
An urgent campaign was needed to alert local people to the situation, to enlist their support and to persuade local Councillors to change their minds.
All local community groups and organisations were contacted and encouraged to lend their support to the campaign. Counting how many people actually used the toilets was key to the success of the campaign. “Knowledge is power”
As a result of this concerted community effort the Parish Council changed their minds and agreed to take on financial responsibility for the toilets which remain open to this day.
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Earlier Projects – just a few examples!
Burnham Well-being Days (2009 and 2011)
Organised by BHPT in partnership with Nexus Leisure and South Bucks District Council, these events which were held on a Saturday at Burnham Grammar School, provided an opportunity for statutory organisations, local community groups and sports clubs to promote their services and activities to all ages. Visitors were able to try out all sorts of activites ranging from Street dance to Bell ringing and free alternative therapy taster sessions were available. Many people took up new activites as a result of attending.
Secondary School Health Survey (2007)
In 2007 nearly 1200 students at Burnham Grammar and Burnham Upper Schools completed a health/lifestyle survey. Both schools valued the information it provided and the issues it highlighted. Previously the Trust had undertaken a survey of students’ attitudes to sex education lessons, which provided valauble insights for both schools.
Burnham Library Garden Makeover (2007)
In the summer of 2007, in celebration of a successful local campaign to protect Burnham Library’s opening hours, adult volunteers worked alongside Trust staff and students from Burnham Upper School and St Peter’s Primary School to tidy and replant the border in the Library’s courtyard garden.
Volunteer for Youth Campaign (2007)
During 2007 in partnership with Bucks Voluntary Action, the Trust organised a widespread advertising campaign to encourage adults to come forward to work with young people. The results were very encouraging with several experienced and very motivated volunteers recruited.
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Next: What’s on in Burnham