“I visited WAM Woods today with my brother who has special needs. I often provide respite for my brother to give my parents and other siblings a break. It is really difficult to find places to visit that cater for children with special needs but the staff were fab and very welcoming! We travelled 40 minutes to visit WAM Woods but it was worth it and we would definitely come again. There really needs to be more places like this as it gives much needed respite to families and also a fun experience for the kids!”
Indoor Short Break Sessions in Winchcombe
Outdoor Family Sessions in our Woodland
Open Days at WAM Woods exclusively for individuals with Special needs / disabilities.
WAM Youth provided some SEND pilot sessions for families during Spring half term and the Easter holidays, as we explore making our youth provision more inclusive. Many thanks to those who took part!
“So friendly and welcoming. Peaceful, relaxed and stress free. We loved it.”
“Thank you to you and your team so much for a wonderful experience [yesterday]. We all loved it, the children really enjoyed all of the activities. It was very valuable to us to be able to attend this SEND session as the places in the community we are able to access can be very limited. All of the team and volunteers were very friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental, engaging lots with the children. It allowed us to freely participate without feeling under any pressure. We haven’t had many opportunities to do something like this due to our daughters needs, therefore her siblings have also been missing out. This was such a lovely and enriching time for us all, which we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do during the holidays. Thank you for all of your help, support and kindness, we really appreciate it.”
“It’s been one of the only times as a parent of a SEND child that I’ve felt comfortable, It was heart warming to see and feel.”
What to expect from the sessions (note session times on different dates may vary):
Upon arrival, you will be given a pack which includes a map of the woodland, instruction sheets for different activities (such as mud art, nature trail etc to be explored at your leisure) and an order of the day in case you want to join an instructor-led activity or join us for snacks. The ample wood strewn around the woodland offers endless opportunities for den-making. We also will have a sheltered area with free play games and activities such as giant Jenga.
Many children benefit enormously from spending time in our woodland. Being in nature makes for a peaceful and therapeutic environment.
|Activity||Morning Session:||Midday Session:||Late afternoon session:|
|Welcome & entry|
Guided tour around the woodland
Drinks & Snack time at the Kitchen Tarp
Rope Maze/Slack Line activity
Den building activity try out
Time to say Goodbye
About our woodland:
Our 19-acre woodland is based in Evesham on the Vale Park Industrial Estate. You can find us by typing WAM Woods into google maps. It is a 25 minute drive from Cheltenham, 20 mins from Tewksbury, 40 mins from Gloucester, or 15 mins north of Winchcombe.
The entrance is just a short walk up an off-road track away from any traffic with a large expanse of vegetation either side. On arrival at the woodland, the beauty of trees growing and natural vegetation greets the eye. The ground can be uneven and therefore difficult for wheelchair users, however, we are actively working to make our woodland more accessible in this regard. Our woodland is kept as natural as possible with an open boundary all around to allow passage for animals such as deer and can become very muddy so wellies and warm clothes are needed! To encourage wildlife (both big and small) any fallen trees are left to rot naturally with just the roots protruding as a trail of their existence. This large natural space allows young people to feel a sense of freedom and truly be themselves.
You may also be asking yourselves “Are there any toilets?”, Surprisingly yes! We have a compost toilet which was handmade by our young people who already attend the woodland, the toilet is completely private but does have a step.
Please see the video below to gain an insight into what our woodland looks like.
Here are some answers to questions you may still have!
Can we come as a family?
You are very welcome to come as a family. Just let us know when you register.
What ages is it suitable for?
As each child will attend the session with their parent / family or PA(s) we are happy to accept young people with SEND up until 18 years old.
Is it Covid-safe?
One of the wonderful things about being outside is it dramatically reduces the risk of Covid-19 transmission. We will create an environment conducive to social distancing and actively encourage that. However we cannot control each individuals behaviour, especially those who do not understand the concept of social distancing. Therefore each parent or personal assistant will be agreeing to an acceptance of risk upon registering for this event and to encourage their own child to maintain social distancing.
Are the paths suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs?
We are obliged to maintain the woodland in a natural state, and we are sorry that it currently does not have easy access for wheelchairs or buggies. The paths can get very muddy / slippery in the rain, but when it is dry it is a bit easier to navigate if you are feeling brave; just bear in mind the paths are very bumpy! The campfire areas do not currently have vehicle access. We are on a journey to make our provision more inclusive and would very much like to find creative solutions to this in the future.
Are there toilet and changing facilities for wheelchair users and baby changing?
We have a compost toilet (see above) which has limited space inside, and neither does it have a hoist. Please communicate with us if you need nappy changing facilities and we will arrange something suitable.
What happens if it rains?
You would be amazed at what fun can still be had even in the rain! It is usually only very strong winds that oblige us to cancel a day we have organized in our woodland. However, we do have covered areas and the trees also offer a layer of protection. Saying that, we always recommend warm and waterproof clothing and appropriate footwear.
My child absconds and I’m worried about safety. Is it a contained space?
Due to the size and nature of our woodland, it is very difficult to fully contain it. There is a bramble bush that lines one side of the wood. In normal circumstances it would be very unlikely your child would find easy opportunity to escape. However due to the increased vulnerabilities of children with special needs, we do require a parent or personal assistant to be present and responsible for your child. It may also comfort you to know that there are no close roads or traffic to worry about, and we do have CCTV at our entrance.
Is there a danger of others wandering in?
The CCTV at the entrance to our woodland which would identify any suspicious activity. However, as our woodland is not contained, it should be treated as any other public space you would take your child requiring your close supervision.
What about fire danger?
The only fire we will have burning will be to boil a kettle and to make lunch. It will never be left unattended.
Will there be any axes or knives lying about?
We do have instructor-led sessions on various bush-craft activities including knife skills in WAM Youth outdoor education sessions, but these will be safely locked away during our open day.
My child has coordination difficulties. Are there many obstacles?
Our paths do have naturally growing trees and protruding roots which make for an uneven surface, and can get muddy and slippery in the rain, so depending on the severity of your child’s coordination difficulties it may be more challenging for them to enjoy our woodland. The best idea is to try it and see.
My child has a lot of allergies. Is there anything naturally growing in the woodland that is poisonous to the touch or to eat?
Just like any outdoor natural space there are a variety of plants that grow in our woodland and we are discovering new ones all the time! We don’t advise eating anything you find in the woodland (except when being guided by someone we know is trained to recognise edibles) If your child has known allergies to particular plants we advise you to get in touch if you are concerned about this. Our staff are trained outdoor first aiders if other injuries were to occur.
Are there any supermarkets or facilities close by?
There is a Morrisons and other local amenities a short drive away.
How do I know if my child is legally eligible to legally attend given Covid-19 restrictions?
If your child is currently legally permitted to be attending school in person (whether or not their school is actually open) and/or considered vulnerable and in need of such support by reasonable judgement of a parent, school or professional, they are eligible to attend our open day. If you would feel happier talking this over with us, please do get in touch.
Who can I talk to for more information?
Carla our Community Youth Worker can be contacted on 07736 950035 or email@example.com
We look forward to seeing you there!