“I wasn’t sure whether we had the time to take part in Give & Gain Day initially but then I saw this project and knew we just had to do it. What’s more, it worked fantastically well for us as a team. It greatly strengthened our teamworking, communication and project planning skills”. So said Rachael Backhouse of the ONS about Casino Royale, a fun project dreamed up by the staff at Leonard Cheshire Llanhennock Lodge, Caerleon.
Llanhennock Lodge is a care home managed by Leonard Cheshire Disability. Nestling in its own grounds in a rural location on the outskirts of Caerleon, it is a home which provides support to physically disabled people who require nursing or personal care. It specialises in supporting people with a variety of conditions including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, spina bifida and Huntingdon’s disease.
Feedback from Give & Gain Day 2016 shows that:
96% of participants felt the time spent volunteering was rewarded by the benefits of the experience
77% of employees who took part said they developed their skills as a result of participating
82% of participants feel more committed to their employer as a result of taking part
As part of Give & Gain Day Wales 2016, the home’s activities organiser came up with the original idea of staging a casino afternoon for residents which would give them the whole glamorous Las Vegas experience. ONS staff fell for the idea and twelve volunteers from there buckled down to stage this very special event for 35 Llanhennock Lodge residents.
The Casino Royale event was designed to be fun, glamorous and a little outside the everyday experience of the residents: blackjack, roulette and poker games were overseen by croupiers; full evening attire was worn; a temporary bar was set up and drinks served in champagne glasses. The only concessions to full-on Vegas were that the currency was pretend money and the cocktails were non-alcoholic.
Everyone pitched in, with Cardiff’s Little Casino Company providing the roulette wheel, a friend of a friend mixing the mocktails and the nearby Celtic Manor donating an afternoon tea to the raffle. A surplus of £200 was donated to Llanhennock’s sensory room fund, a resource that will support residents in the long term.
The Llanhennock Lodge ‘punters’ had a fantastic day, so much so that one even requested it as a regular event.
But it wasn’t only they who enjoyed the entire event. The ONS volunteers also found the experience thoroughly gratifying and felt that working together on a volunteering project had brought together people from different departments and broadened their horizons beyond the workplace.
ONS’s Rachael Backhouse continued:
"The ONS has over 2,000 staff so we met and worked with people whom we may not previously have known, both on the day and in the lead-up when sharing tasks and thinking how to raise money. It was challenging: we had to get on with people quickly, commit to the project and hatch our plans in record time.
"We all experienced things which were outside our usual work roles – and we all loved it. It was a very special project and we were proud to be a part of it."
Charlotte Escott-Sloan, activities organiser at Llanhennock Lodge, said:
"We’d like to thank each and every ONS volunteer that supported Llanhennock Lodge on Give & Gain Day 2016. Their friendly nature as well as their involvement and actions running the casino afternoon really empowered our residents. The event was a complete success with residents who don’t normally attend activities getting involved.
"We’ve already had a request for another casino day for next month."
BITC Cymru Director Matt Appleby said:
"This was an outstanding project which illustrated that Give & Gain day doesn’t just have to be about planting, gardening and painting, invaluable as those activities are. Llanhennock Lodge and ONS came up with a master-stroke of an idea which fitted its audience exactly. Here was a group of people who would not normally be able to enjoy blackjack, roulette and mocktails at a casino – so the casino came to them.
"Give & Gain Day is a great way for businesses to get their staff engaged whilst also having a positive impact on some of the most deprived communities in Wales. We congratulate all those involved and look forward to hearing what innovative projects 2017 brings."