Ravenswood publication seeks new editors as long-standing volunteers stand down after a combined 27 years
Lindy Johnson and Amanda Pharez, joint editors of The Villager, a publication chronicling the lives of more than 100 people with learning disabilities who live at Norwood’s Ravenswood in Berkshire, are stepping down after a combined 27 years at the helm. Norwood is now seeking dedicated volunteers to take over the reins at this much-loved publication.
In 1997 Ravenswood’s What’s On newsletter, a weekly round-up of upcoming activities, expanded to The Villager and started to chronicle the lives, times and achievements of the residents.
In the past 21 years it’s grown to a must-read for residents’ families, allowing them to keep up to date with their relatives’ exploits, which is especially poignant in times when they can’t be there themselves.
The Villager has covered many different subjects over the years: everything from birthdays to royal visits. Lindy says her personal favourites have been Norwood events like the Chanukah parties (“It’s wonderful! Even the people in the wheelchairs are dancing!”) and Norwood Challenges.
These Challenges see people Norwood supports travel across the globe to cycle or trek in a number of spectacular locations; including Nepal, Kilimanjaro and Kerala in Southern India.
Lindy says: “The Challenges are fantastic because when people from Ravenswood go, there’s a real buzz around the place. And then when people come back from Israel and all these exotic locations, you write about it and you feel like you’ve been yourself.”
Amanda’s route to Norwood was actually through one of these Challenges. Having completed the Iceland Cycle and Trek in 2001, she met people who encouraged her to volunteer at Ravenswood and eventually with The Villager.
Amanda says: “I remember cycling in Iceland and just being in awe of the people on the tandems, with people who live at Ravenswood teaming up with volunteers. It was just so inspiring and I knew I wanted to get more involved with Norwood.”
The early days were very much about making do with what was available, according to Amanda. But thankfully things have moved on since then.
Amanda continues: “When I started it was all in black and white. We used to stick the photos on to the stories and it was a challenge trying to remember who was who! But it’s great that we can send it out electronically now, and to the families of the people we support too. Each month we get at least three or four people email us back and tell us how much they enjoyed reading it and how much they appreciate it, so that’s fantastic.”
As their time is coming to an end, both Amanda and Lindy are keen for volunteers with as much passion as them to take over the reins. Amanda encourages the next editors of The Village to “really get to know people at Ravenswood”.
“It’s such a special place. You really need to spend time here and get under the skin of the people to write the best stories,” she says. “The face-to-face recognition you get from families who come to visit is so rewarding. Some of the residents will come and make a fuss of you if they haven’t seen you for a while too, which is a very lovely feeling.”
If anyone is interested in writing for The Villager, they can email the firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know.
For further information please contact Norwood press team:
By email: email@example.com
By phone: 020 8420 6866 or 07736 458532
Norwood is the largest Jewish charity in the UK supporting vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and people with learning disabilities and autism.
Founded in 1795, Norwood is one of the UK’s oldest charities and the only Jewish charity to enjoy the Patronage of Her Majesty The Queen.
It helps children and adults to maximise their potential at home, at school and throughout their lives, through personalised services designed to enable choice.
Each year Norwood needs £35m to keep its services running, £12m of which comes through voluntary donations. These services include a total of 55 residential, supported living and family centres across London and the South East.
Norwood currently runs eight charity shops across North and East London thanks to the support of 150 dedicated volunteers.