Thomley Case Study: Camping pods project

The Clare Foundation are extremely thrilled to have been able to support Thomley with their camping pods project.

Please do read the case study below to hear about the great work Thomley do and how we have been able to help deliver this amazing project supporting disabled people and their families.

What does your organisation do?

Our vision is to enhance the lives and experiences of disabled people, their parents, carers and families.

Our mission is to provide a lifelong learning and leisure centre for people of all abilities and disabilities in a safe, secure, stimulating and non-judgemental environment; offer friendly, trained, experienced staff who understand our visitors’ needs; help our disabled visitors develop confidence, life skills and social skills through fun, play and support; prepare our community to be better able to support disabled people and meet their needs so they can more fully participate in daily life; and, become a preferred destination for disabled people and their families.

Our strategic priorities are to develop our site to its best potential; ensure our impact is measured and can be readily demonstrated; and to market and communicate what we do.

Thomley provides play, leisure and learning opportunities for people of all abilities and disabilities at our spacious indoor and outdoor facility in rural Buckinghamshire. In a normal (non-COVID) year, we see more than 30,000 visits (12,000 disabled; 18,000 non-disabled). Half of our visitors come from Oxfordshire, 40% from Buckinghamshire and 10% from across the UK. The majority of our disabled visitors are autistic and have behavioural and/or learning impairments that make mainstream provision inaccessible or unsuitable for them.

What are/were your challenges?

Delivering our vision whilst having a heavy reliance on Trust and Foundation fundraising income.

How did The Clare Foundation help with the camping pods project?

  • Networking opportunities.
  • Professional advice and support.
  • Interest free loans to develop “commercial activities” which help reduce the dependency on Trust and Foundation fundraising income.
  • Grants to help provide opportunities to some of our disadvantaged visitors. Find out more about this project.

We have two interest free loans from The Clare Foundation:

  1. A £22,000 loan that was used to fund the development of our seven Serviced Offices which are used predominantly by organisations that address SEND. These serviced offices generate income which helps reduce the dependency on Trust and Foundation fundraising income.
  2. Our other loan is for £63,000 and was used to fund the development of three camping pods. They are used by disabled and non-disabled visitors alike for ‘Stay and Play’ camping experiences.

Additionally they generate income which helps reduce the dependency on Trust and Foundation fundraising income.

The Camping Pods were designed and built on site by New Meaning with whom we also provide our Life Skills Programme. The Camping Pods will provide “hospitality sector” experience for our Life Skills learners.

A family review of the camping pods project:

We had the most brilliant time. For us, a holiday doesn’t exist. We can’t go far due to my son’s medical needs and we are very limited with the facilities wherever we go. This is the first time in 9 years I would say I’ve had a proper break. We have had a fabulous couple of days, and we will most definitely be back next year. For the first time in months we actually got some sleep, we relaxed, we had fun, as a family. Thank you so much to Thomley and the staff, who went the extra mile to make our stay magical”.

A message from the team at Thomley

“Thomley’s vision is to “enhance the lives and experiences of disabled people their families and the wider community”. The Clare Foundation have helped us achieve that, by going the extra mile and giving Thomley a £4000 grant to help disadvantaged families enjoy a magical holiday with us. To date the grant is 50% spent with 51 families enjoying a 50% discount”.”

Learn more about Thomley and the work they do for the community by visiting their website.

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