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Bears at Home: ‘We wanted to be there every day’

When lockdown hit, Kris Tavender set out to ensure nobody within the Community Foundation’s SEND provision would be left behind.

And so ‘Bears at Home’ was born – a daily online video service aimed at maintaining relationships with the Foundation’s SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) pupils and their families and ensuring they stay active and engaged through the most challenging of times.

From dance sessions and story time, to Makaton lessons, staff at the Community Foundation delivered lessons every weekday at 11am, including throughout the school holidays.

Fast forward four months, 87 episodes and more than 900 hours of viewing time, Bears at Home is entering its final week, bringing the curtain down on a life-changing project during which staff from the Community Foundation have gone above and beyond to serve the young people in the community most in need.

On YouTube alone, Bears at Home has racked up nearly 30,000 views, 800 hours of viewing time and an average of 1,600 views per week, with the month of July attracting 153 hours of viewing on its own.

“The ‘Bears at Home’ concept was intended from the outset to help maintain those relationships we hold so close to our hearts with the young people and families we are blessed enough to work with each day,” said Spectrum programme manager, Kris Tavender.

“The lockdown provision was always meant for the long haul, knowing that establishing and maintaining a sense of routine and familiarity at this time for young people with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) across Bristol would be more important than ever.

“We wanted to be there for people every day; Whatever else changed, Bears at Home would be there, and that’s what we did. 11am every morning, every weekday for 17 weeks straight – we event went through the school holidays. 87 days in total – and whilst hard work, we loved every minute of it!

“Creating a sense of variety within our routine was vital also-to keep things fresh but also to make sure we included a little something for EVERY child with a disability that was missing out on so much due to COVID-19. We knew we could not do everything – but we also knew we had a responsibility to do something.

“The engagement from families has been truly humbling – it really touches our hearts and helps to keep us going at a time when we miss our young people so much. We cannot express enough how thankful we are for the parents, carers, families and friends that have supported their young people to make ‘Bears at Home’ what is was - something that truly belonged to everyone.”


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