01689 851596

Aiming for Volunteering Excellence

Volunteers are integral to the work of The Maypole Project. Alongside offering their time, they bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills to the organisation which we value highly. With this in mind, we want every volunteer who walks through our door to have a positive experience of volunteering with us, from the time they enquire to the time to leave us. To achieve this, we need to continuously look at how we can develop our volunteering programme to meet the needs of volunteers.

A very important part of this process is listening to our existing volunteers and getting feedback about their experience of volunteering with us.  This invaluable information helps us understand what we are doing well and where we can improve.

To start this conversation, in July, we sent out our annual volunteer satisfaction survey to all our volunteers who volunteer regularly and/or have been with us for at least a few months. We had a great response with over half of our volunteers completing the survey. And overall, the results are very positive with a large percentage of volunteers rating our volunteer management processes and procedures as excellent or good. Also, 96% feel that their volunteering has met their expectations and feel they are a valued member of the team.

These results are very encouraging and the feedback we received has offered us an insight into where we could improve as well. We will be looking at this in more detail over the next few months.

The process doesn’t stop there though. We also hope to continue to give volunteers a voice and an opportunity to play a part in the development of volunteering at The Maypole Project by starting a Volunteer Forum. This forum will be a space where volunteers can provide ongoing feedback on their volunteering experience and also provide an opportunity for us to consult with volunteers on new volunteer developments and projects.

These insights will be invaluable in informing our volunteer plans going forward so we can continuously improve the quality of our volunteering programme and realise our ambitions to make The Maypole Project an excellent place to volunteer.

Running and Me

In this blog Phil, Activities Co-ordinator at The Maypole Project, talks about running and the benefits to your  health not only physical but mental and how running for a good cause can keep you motivated when the going gets tough!


I guess I have run all my life, one way or another. From running round the playground in my junior school to running, tackling and try scoring on a rugby field, there has always been some kind of association to it.  In recent years I have really started taking on various different distances from 5k fun runs dressed as Santa and taking on giant inflatable obstacle courses. To some really large extreme distances, the largest of them all being back in 2016 where I ran 184 miles along the Thames over 3 days. All of these runs obviously have, had beneficial health and physical benefits for myself and so have been great at keeping me physically fit and they have always been used to fundraise for The Maypole Project.

But I have only recently started thinking about what running has meant for my mental health. I’ve always found that running, jogging or walking distances has made me very robust and determined and I think a lot of why this is, is because I have had a cause to run for. Having a goal of raising money for such a worthwhile charity, whenever I have taking part in any organised distance runs has really helped me complete them. As whenever the going got tough I would just grit teeth think about the families that The Maypole Project support and families that I have worked with and got my head down stopped moaning and just kept going. Knowing that the funds coming in for the run I was doing would help keep this fantastic support going.

But I think it goes a lot further then that as when I stop to actually think about how I feel when I run and what it does for my mind It’s when I really realise running is my therapy and how I deal with a lot of my emotions from my day. I am lucky to be able to still find the time to  run most days and when I am out running I am just fully focussed on that moment in time nothing else really. It’s my time (and as a father to a one year old now) It’s a precious time for me. This has giving me even more of a sense of how precious the time that the Maypole Project support offers our families is. I find that whilst I’m out I de-stress I can leave the office or my home with a face of thunder or grumpy as hell but after any time spent just running I come back calm and de-stressed (if a little knackered). I find also how that time spent outside breathing in the air taking in the sunshine (if it’s out) can also have a really creative way in the way I’m thinking. And I find that this is really when I am sometimes at my most creative.

Running as a whole has I think really helped me become the person I am now and really shaped the way I am both physically, emotionally and mentally. Running as a sport is not for everyone but there is something out there for everyone to help them cope de-stress and have just a moment of calm and just have a break. It could be Art, it could be dancing. It could be coming and speaking to a therapist or just coming to one of the many support activities that The Maypole Project provide.

Whatever it is it’s hugely important to take a moment to do it.




Whatever you are stressing about, getting active can significantly reduce this. Putting on your trainers can help with relaxation, anxiety and negative thinking . Running can help your body control stress and deal with existing mental tension. Longer distance runs can give you the time to help solve problems. Whilst shorter distances  can really help reduce tension.


Taking part in any physical exercise, whether that is running or another form, can be your new way of counting sheep at night. Moderate exercise can also significantly improve the sleep of insomnia sufferers.


Running can be a fantastic way of combatting that sluggish and withdrawn feeling that is associated with depression. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Running can take your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety

4.Boosting Self Esteem

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being. Exercising  outdoors can also result in lowered blood pressure and increased self-esteem.

5. Increased Creativity

Going for a runrun can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. As I’ve mentioned I find running is when I am at my most creative and have my most creative thoughts. Whether it’s thinking on hay to solve a problem or what my next running and fundraising event will be for The Maypole Project. So next time you find your are sitting around waiting for that eureka moment to happen take yourself out for a run.

So if you think that you may want to start up running do it, remember all the benefits your body will enjoy from getting active as well as the mental health benefits as well. And if you feel like you would like to run on behalf of The Maypole Project we have plenty of places in any type of distance and for any ability. Just follow this link to see what places we have. 


An update from our CEO

Please see below an update from Sally Flatteau Taylor (CEO) regarding
The Maypole Project’s planned short breaks activities in Royal Borough
of Greenwich

“The Maypole Project’s ACTIVITIES provision offer in Greenwich is to families with
children with disabilities AND their siblings. The design of our proposed short breaks provision to Royal Borough of Greenwich for Summer 2019 was created to suit a wide range of abilities as “targeted” services.

Our proposal was unfortunately understood as “specialist” service provision

and neither party noted this mismatch prior to the publication of the short breaks brochure.  After much reshaping of the offer from
ourselves to fit the specialist provision and recruiting and training
a fantastic team to support the work, we could not reach an
agreement for this provision with RBG which meant that our negotiations to the contract
were unfortunately closed.
We do however continue to offer our therapies and activities to families in the
borough of Greenwich.  Whilst these are currently nearly fully subscribed
if you are, or know of a family who would benefit from our
services please do contact us for information”

Reflecting on the valuable contribution of our trustees

This week is Trustee Week and a chance for The Maypole Project to celebrate the valuable contribution our trustees make to the charity.

Our current Board of Trustees includes some passionate and dedicated individuals who bring a wealth of experience to the organisation, whether that is from a personal or professional perspective. They give their time voluntarily to share the important job of governing the charity, directing how it is managed and, ultimately, make sure we are doing what we were set up to do.

Such an important role, often unseen to the outside world, is not only a crucial part of ensuring we meet our responsibilities as a charity but also is key to helping us develop both our existing services and new services so we can reach out to as many families as possible.

We can’t thank them enough for their passion and dedication to supporting our work and look forward to another successful year of working together.

Below our Trustees give us a little insight into what being a Trustee means to them:

Julie Froggatt

I joined the Board of Trustees in 2015 and have been in the role of Chair for a couple of years.  For me, what The Maypole Project offers is unique, and makes such a tangible difference for so many families.  I am constantly amazed – and energised – by the determination and sense of fun of the families I come into contact with – in the face of often great adversity – and feel that I gain as much from my involvement with The Maypole Project as I give. I am proud to work with a great Board, and look forward to playing a part in the Project’s future development.

John Smedley

I decided to become a Trustee after being made aware of the great work The Maypole Project does from a work colleague of mine.  I really enjoy being a part of the Maypole family and find my role as Trustee motivational, interesting and fun.  I get to see and hear about all the things the charity is doing to help people – and there are so many things.  The sheer enthusiasm shown by everyone involved with the charity is truly inspiring.

Leila Seeney

I joined The Maypole Project Board of Trustee’s in 2016 because I wanted to contribute my professional skills to running of the charity and offer a parents’ perspective to the Board. I have a passion for helping children affected by disability and their families. I find the role rewarding and satisfying and I was initially surprised at quite how much work goes into the running of a charity! I feel privileged to be on the Board of Trustees.

If you’d like a rewarding and interesting role that lets you give back to your local community, we currently have a vacancy on our Board of Trustees for a Treasurer – click here for more information

Team Maypole celebrate 15th Anniversary

The dream of the CREATION of The Maypole Project’s unique service, at first seemed impossible
Though the need from families was fast apparent, its GROWTH seemed improbable
When we summoned  the will, the skills, the support it’s LONGEVITY became do-able
And TODAY the FUTURE of the project from it’s 15 year “start” is essential, inevitable
AS LONG AS all of our wonderful supporters find creative ways to help us!

There are lots of ways you can help us to celebrate our 15th Anniversary year, have a look through our website or contact fundraising@themaypoleproject.co.uk


Price Family

When my son was 4 years old, he was diagnosed with autism and learning disabilities. He was later diagnosed with Epilepsy and a sensory processing disorder, and now aged 12 is non-verbal and currently being tested for ADHD.

I started to access the services that The Maypole Project offer when my youngest daughter was 3 years old, feeling rather overwhelmed at the thought of bringing her up alongside my son. I first used the befriending service which was very useful and helped me to get my head around all that was occurring within my life. My daughter then began utilising the sibling support group which helped greatly.

The Maypole Project organises many activities and outings which enable my child with special needs to be alongside their sibling which is lovely, and something which not many other services provide. My daughter recently attended a sibling only outing. She loved the trip and it was great for her to be surrounded by other children who were in the same or similar position to her. This trip was followed by an all-inclusive trip, which my son and daughter could attend together. My son attends many other clubs, such as swimming, which cater specifically for his needs, but can leave my daughter feeling rather left out, so this unique aspect of The Maypole Project is brilliant. The staff on these trips are amazing, and through a combination of experienced staff and volunteers this helps to ensure that the trip is as exciting as possible for all the children attending.

The Gambado play evenings are another service which we regularly use as a family. As my son is now 12 years old, a soft play centre is usually inaccessible for him. However, as these evenings are dedicated to Maypole families only, my son and daughter can have fun within a safe environment; whilst I am able to catch up with the other families.

The ‘Get-Together @51’ mornings are also great, and provide a space to socialise with other Maypole families over a coffee and cake. These sessions are very relaxed and informal, an environment which doesn’t feel pressurised or forced, and through chatting with other parents I often come away with lots of helpful tips.

Scudder Family

The birth of our first son, Zac, was long awaited. From around 5 weeks onwards, he started to develop chest infections and it gradually became evident that he was failing to reach cognitive milestones. At a speech and language appointment at the Phoenix Centre, we were told that Zac had a rare condition that probably wouldn’t ever be diagnosed, and that his chances of learning to talk were very small. From that point onwards, we had continuous medical appointments in the search for a genetic condition, all of which occurred during Zac’s sisters first year of life, with us finding ourselves fixated on Zac’s life and the quest to try and uncover a diagnosis. When Zac was 5 years old, an appointment with a geneticist at Guy’s Hospital proposed that Zac had Bardet-Biedl syndrome, a rare inherited disorder. This appointment was followed by various scans and tests, before it was finally confirmed at Great Ormond Street Hospital that Zac did indeed have Bardet-Biedl syndrome. This diagnosis came as a huge shock to all the family, with it not being the prognosis we wanted.

I picked up a leaflet about The Maypole Project when at Great Ormond Street Hospital, but didn’t ring at first as I thought I was coping with the diagnosis. However, within a week of the diagnosis, I felt like I had hit a brick wall and that everything was tumbling down, and I just had to ring The Maypole Project and start the referral process.

Although I have never had any official counselling sessions, I am in regular contact with staff at The Maypole Project, with them always being there, either just listening or offering suggestions. Our daughter, Zara, accessed play therapy sessions offered by the Maypole Project when she started school. These sessions greatly helped Zara and she absolutely loved them, and within a few weeks of this therapeutic intervention she was a completely different child, being much more relaxed and calmer. In addition to play therapy, we regularly attend the Maypole Gambado evenings, an environment where I am able to relax with my children. These evenings are simply amazing, and provide the children with a safe venue to have fun in whilst I can talk to other parents.

The Maypole Project provided Zac with weekly play sessions in order to support and prepare him for the transitionary period of attending a new school, in addition to introducing him to the idea of getting transport to his new school. Recently we were let down by SEN transport, which was immediately followed by calling Maypole for advice. Within two days, a solution was provided which meant that Zac arrived for his first day of school happy and contented, and I feel without this intervention led by Maypole, Zac wouldn’t have attended his first day of school. In situations like this, Maypole is always my first point of contact, before I talk to the schools, hospitals or social workers, I will always call Maypole first.

We would have been in point of crisis without the support provided by The Maypole Project. Without them, I truly believe that I wouldn’t have been able to function during the earliest of weeks following the diagnosis, and that my daughter would have suffered with a greater deal of issues. Maypole is our safety net, always there to rescue us when needed, and we are eternally grateful for the support they have provided us with.

Spiers Family

Our son Charlie has Spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular genetic condition which affects his respiratory muscles and movement. We began to notice that Charlie was having difficulty sitting up, crawling and walking; and a referral at around 11 months old to a specialist resulted in a diagnosis when Charlie was 15 months old. We were referred to The Maypole Project by social workers and the disabled children’s team due to Charlie suffering with anxiety when being on his own.

Following this referral, Charlie began to access play therapy when he was around 6 years old, and has now been attending this for around 2 years. It took a while to notice any improvements due to Charlie suffering from a few knockbacks at school, but gradually through this therapeutic intervention he has grown in confidence and the play therapy has helped to teach him the necessary coping mechanisms for daily life. The play therapist has also visited Charlie’s school on a few occasions to offer support and advice which has been fantastic.

Charlie’s conditions means that he has ongoing medical appointments and therapeutic sessions to attend to, which can be quite overwhelming at times. As a result, I regularly access the individual counseling service which The Maypole Project offer, which provides a space for me to voice my concerns and any issues I may be struggling with.

In addition to these services provided by the project, we regularly attend the Gambado evenings. I wouldn’t normally contemplate attending the same venue on public days due to the vast number of people present which Charlie can find overwhelming. However, he really enjoys the privately booked sessions and they give him the opportunity to have fun in a safe and secure environment which is great.

Bringing up a child with a complex medical need can be really tough at times. The Maypole Project is there to listen and offer support whenever required; and as a family we really feel they care for us and feel listened to.

Skelton Family

Following the birth of our daughter, Annabelle, we began to notice small things that didn’t seem right. From a very young age, Annabelle had many chest infections, and it became evident that she wasn’t reaching milestones at the correct stage like most other children her age. At 10 months old, Annabelle was admitted into hospital for a month due to a severe chest infection and it was after this admission that investigations started, with lots of hospital appointments, MRIs and testing.

Following this, Annabelle was eventually diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay, Hypotonia and Cerebral Palsy, although the diagnosis was very gradual. We felt that very little information was provided following the diagnosis, and therefore had to do a lot of our own research. The diagnosis initiated a grieving process, and we felt there was a lack of follow up care for the family.

Annabelle’s conditions have a large impact on us as a family. We have had to teach Annabelle everything; things taken for granted such as sitting up and walking have had to be taught, all of which require lots of input, time and energy. The diagnosis has also impacted the relationship between me and my husband, with us being fully invested in Annabelle and the progress she is making. Additionally, Annabelle has constant and on-going appointments, including medical appointments and therapy sessions, which average to around 12 appointments each week, leading to a very structured and busy life.

We were introduced to The Maypole Project through a combination of a friend who already accessed the service and a health visitor who suggested the project; finding the referral process very positive for us as a family. As a family we access couple counselling, individual counselling therapeutic play sessions for Annabelle and play therapy for our older son James. We have found couple counselling incredibly helpful, with it providing us with the time to open up to each other and communicate, enabling us to go through the grieving process together. Additionally, it has allowed us to explore our thoughts and feelings, and feel it is an invaluable support service. Through the therapeutic play sessions offered to Annabelle, she has made lots of progress and loves attending the sessions. It also provides me with one hour to do other things, which may not seem a long time to others, but enables me to check my emails and take a little bit of time out from being both Annabelle’s mother and carer. Before starting play therapy, James, aged 5, was displaying aggressive traits. However, as the play therapy sessions have progressed, James seems to be a lot calmer.

The Maypole Project really does focus on the entire family, and the flexible nature means that unlike other services, sessions can be scheduled to fit into our lives, and are not limited just to evenings. We feel the Maypole Project really does provide ongoing support, and is always there when required.