John, who lives at Roman House, had been finding it difficult to find a new routine adjusting to all the big changes that have happened this year.

“Before March 2020 and COVID-19 spreading in England, I used to go to town every day.  I would take the same bus there and back. Whilst I was in town, I would go to Sainsbury’s to meet friends, have my lunch at Mr Munch then maybe visit the market to get some vegetables for my guinea pig.

The friend I met up with the most was Ron, we are very good friends and would arrange to meet every day. I didn’t need anyone to come with me to town, the people I would see regularly would make sure I was ok and knew me very well as I have had the same routine for many years now.

When I had finished with my day in town, I would get on the bus and come back to Roman House where my support worker for the day would greet me and make sure I was alright. I liked having my independence to go to town, I felt very safe walking and being on the bus. The owners of Mr Munch knew me very well, they even asked me to be in the paper with them when they moved to another part of town. Not only did I go to town every day, but I would also go to the Mencap group twice a week on a Monday and a Tuesday.  I would usually book a taxi to go the group.”

When the first national lockdown happened, many of John’s regular groups stopped meeting up and he was not able to go to town anymore.

“Kerry, the manager of Roman House, sat down and had a long chat to me about the pandemic.  She explained that it was very infectious and because of someone in the bungalow being in a high-risk category, that I would not be able to go to town for a little while.  This was very upsetting and took me a little while to come to terms with.  For a little while, I was very quiet and did not know what to do with my day.  Suddenly, my routine wasn’t there anymore, and it was hard to find a new one.”

That was until Team Leader Ashleigh decided to buy a trough for the gardens to try and grow some of their own vegetables at home.

“I found this idea interesting, so I decided to help. Ashleigh showed me how to water them, and told me when we could expect to see the vegetables starting to grow. Although the vegetables do not take up too much of my day, it became my new routine and every morning at around 9:30am I go to water my vegetables.”

“In July, Ashleigh and I decided to move to the carrots and we could not believe how well they had grown. Kerry decided to give me a new challenge and brought some “Funky Vegetables” where they are different colours, so Ashleigh and I decided to plant these in the carrots’ place. I am looking forward to seeing the purple carrots grow.”

John was so successful in his new gardening hobby that he also received a prize at this year’s Salutem in Bloom competition for all of his great efforts.