Sing & Sign at Selfridges, Birmingham

On Saturday 12th August the Halas Homes sing and sign choir were invited to perform in the Birmingham Bull Ring Selfridges department store.


The event was a great success and shoppers and staff were treated to some unexpected entertainment and lessons in signing from our fabulous choir leader Glynis.

Thank you so much to Charlotte, Rose, Chris and the stores General Manager Sam for your hospitality and making us so welcome, our choir members said they felt like star’s. Looking forward to performing for you all again soon.

My favourite ever day at #SelfridgesBirmingham – thank you @THSHBirmingham for bringing the Sing and Sign choir to us.”

The best feeling seeing an entire store join @HalasHomes Sing & Sign Choir @Selfridges @THSHBirmingham #musicmatters #selfridgesbirmingham


Sing & Sign at Selfridges, Birmingham

“It was about the journey not Machu Picchu itself”!

img_2794aWhat started out as a personal challenge to push my physical limits quickly turned into much more when I decided it would be good to put my efforts to good use by helping with Halas Homes’ plans to create a bespoke dementia garden adding to the funds raised by our incredible staff and residents during a Memory Walk they took part in during September.

Working in social care is not ever easy particularly now with austerity, black holes, living wage and more expected for less; there has never been a time where we have to be more creative, energized, pro-active, accepting to change and positive, whilst always keeping the vision in mind of where we are going.

It is many years since I backpacked and climbing Machu Picchu proved to be a physical and psychological challenge where the re-inforcement of qualities of patience and acceptance had to be at the forefront of my thinking

On a grey damp morning (accompanied by Paddington Bear who was returning to deepest, darkest Peru with me) I departed from Heathrow with a stack of inspirational notes written by staff and friends and a promise to everyone that I would complete this trek as long as altitude sickness didn’t prevent me.

I had in my mind the end point which was me standing on the famous photographed point of Machu Picchu and, although I had purchased all necessary attire (in particular a camelbak to ensure I drank copious amount of water), I hadn’t really had chance to study the trip. As anyone who works in social care knows however much your to-do list is up to date competing agendas always arise. It doesn’t matter how determined I am to finish my last day before annual leave there is always just one more opportunity which must be taken in order to continually drive the organisation forward.

After my third flight I checked into a hostel in Cuzco to acclimatise with my new found buddies with whom I was to spend 4 days trekking. The top bunk was difficult to get into but we were all in the same boat – feeling sick, tired and lacking co-ordination and concentration and this soon broke down social barriers between me (a baby boomer) and 5 millennials.

The Inca trail was to be 4 days trekking and I was shocked with my body on the first day. My legs wouldn’t work as quickly as I was used to and the altitude had a profound effect on my respiratory system. I knew I was the eldest in the group but found it hard to accept that I was not at the front of the group and, although the mind was willing, my body held me back; my breathing was laboured and I knew I had to listen. Yoga came to mind and the importance of listening to your body and acceptance. The guide asked me why people came to his country to rush the journey without looking at its beauty and I realized he was telling me it is ok to be at my own pace on my own journey and after all isn’t it me who is always telling myself ‘DON’T FORGET TO STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS’

That night I bedded down next to a running stream and watched the stars in a night sky unspoilt by light pollution and this overrode the unspeakable toileting of our first night’s camp.

Day Two took us to Dead Woman’s Pass which was the highest point being 4,200 metres and never more did I listen to my body and accept that I needed to walk slowly and deliberately without stopping. If I stopped it was like starting the motor of a car up again on a cold morning when the car moves a 5mph and chugs along. The trick for me was to continue with determination and grit and walk at a pace which although annoyingly slow would get me there! Once again I reflected on yoga practice and especially acceptance. During training sessions at Halas Homes staff are put in situations where they experience what it is like to be disabled or partially sighted; to sit in a hoist or wheelchair needing personal assistance. Walking up Machu Picchu put my mind to thinking how I would be when aged and using a stick and being unable to push my body due to frailty.img-20161205-wa0003

This brought home to me how our training in values and culture here at Halas is so important in helping us to experience and better understand situations from the viewpoint of the those that are dependent on our care and support.

It was enlightening walking with such an interesting group of people who had different reasons and journeys in life directing them to the trek and this made the experience more interesting.

Eventually on Day 4 after 3 long and arduous days we arose at 4.30am ready to admire the wonderful sunrise over the mountains to Machu Picchu. Sadly however the clouds are low and the view is mystical if not bright and clear. We continued our journey to our ultimate goal and the rain and damp ensured that we tread carefully and methodically. I had been told of the last push of high steps and, as I clambered up (on all fours) with the weight of my back pack bearing down on me, I was so excited to reach the last step. The view was not as I had envisioned for my yearned photograph and yet it didn’t matter. There we all stood – a group of people who I had not known previously but with whom I had been through so much and discussed, laughed and analysed much about life with. The realisation came that the journey with this group of tremendous young people had been what this had been all about. Not only had I learnt yet again the importance of patience and acceptance I had made new connections without email, iphone, ipads, Facebook or twitter but by ‘being’ by ‘listening’ by accepting our differences and our similarities.


So what started off as a personal journey to a final destination ended up with 5 new friends, 4 days trekking, altitude sickness, several nose bleeds, unspeakable toilets, an ascent of 4,200metres in 30 degree heat with coca leaves for altitude sickness and a feeling that essentially we all are pulled to nature which nurtures us, feeds our souls and teaches us so much about ourselves.



I asked the group to send me thoughts on what they had learnt from this trip; they were all so positive and energizing but the two which sum it up all so well and can be applied to each of us were “We need to get out of our comfort zones every now and then”’ and “We can learn and grow from every situation presented to us”.

I had a fantastic experience and so far have raised over £1,700 for our dementia garden and, although I doubt it’s going to get any easier in social care, it has been a positive experience to roll back the years and remember to always keep in mind that youthful feeling when anything seems possible ………….




“It was about the journey not Machu Picchu itself”!

Look at us!!!!!

We were very proud to have been a part of and to perform at the 3rd Sector Care Awards held in London in December 2015.  The response to Dance Unity’s performances was amazing and they wrote as follows:  “Showcasing what the event aims to achieve, the winners of 2014’s Creative Arts Award, Halas Homes, concluded the ceremony with a powerful dance performance which left Dame Esther in tears. This emotive and inspiring finale from Dance Unity, an integrated dance troupe comprising trained dancers and people with learning disabilities, served as a poignant reminder of why everyone in the room strives for excellence on a daily basis”.

 Care Management Magazine’s link below.

 Dance Unity   Dance Unity (21)

   Dance Unity and Esther

 Poppy Appealjulie with poppy

We started the New Year with a cheque presentation to the Royal British Legion from the sale of our hand made poppies. Liz Keenan, Poppy Appeal Organizer, came and visited us at the Day Centre and stayed awhile to listen to our Music Club.





Coffee Cups are starting a new Luncheon clubCoffee Cups Logo



 Well done to Coffee Cups on obtaining a Gold Star for Healthy Eating Awareness from the Food Standards Agency; this is a brilliant achievement.

Dignity Day                        

Dignity Day logo

What a fantastic day we had when Sarah Offley from DVC and her co presenters who attend The Meeting Place at Halas gave a presentation on ‘What its like to be me’. This allowed an audience from the wider community and also members of staff to listen and have an understanding of how some people with learning disabilities feel about themselves.

We had a talk about our Reiki sessions that we have been holding at Halas and also a music quiz which was won by the Green Team. To add to the day there was a pamper table and a memory table with loads of photos for residents, clients and family members to reminisce about.

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National Care Home Open Day 2016


The National Care Home Open Day is on Friday 17th June and this year’s theme is ‘Celebration’.  Keep you eyes peeled for more information on our blog, twitter and Facebook page.


Halesowen in Bloom


We have been to Halesowen again recently to plant some more bulbs and keep an eye on our adopted plot.


Health and Wellbeing continues despite the wintry season First picture

 It may be winter outside but in our hearts its spring but we still continue with our walking and exercise classes and thanks to Laura from Dudley Rowing Club we are able to have rowing sessions in our Day Centre.


We are trying to get and keep kit for the Black Country Fun Run on Sunday 3rd July.




 Our allotment group have had a fantastic meeting with local schools and community warriors this week and have some amazing ideas for an eco project.

Volunteers have kindly been looking after our off site allotment and watered the cabbage and lettuce as well as pruning the grape vine.


 “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

 We were very pleased to welcome artist Jason Wilsher-Mills to the Day Centre. Our clients enjoyed a day of drawing and colouring using iPads.



A group of us visited Jason last year and we really appreciate him taking the time to visit us.

These are some thoughts from members who joined in with the art class:

“Never seen anything like it, I thought it was amazing.”

 “The nice man showed me how to do a picture using the tablet, enjoyed learning something different.”

 “Great, never used a computer before, my picture was great. I want to do it again.”



Halas Homes Sing & Sign choir are proud to be part of Community Spirit, Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 22nd May 2016


Please support us and come along to this great event at The Symphony Hall on 22nd May.

Look at us!!!!!


Our day centre provides opportunities for members to showcase talents and December was no exception.

December 9th – Dance Unity performed at 3rd Sector Care Awards in London.  The audience were very receptive and made us very welcome. (See links)    Uptown Funk    I’m only human

Launch of video re ageing well

Health and wellbeing is something we continually promote and we were pleased to see such a brilliant video put together by BILD and Dr Peter Taylor featuring Halas Homes


ASC Dudley (@AscDudley)
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Brilliant video -ageing well and people with learning disabilities in Dudley @BILD @HalasHomes @CoffeeCupsHalas

 6th December – Salvation Army

 We had a great turn out to our annual carol concert and it was great to have the Mayor and Mayoress of Dudley join us and sing at this ever popular event.

Salvation Army logo

 13th December Celebrating Carers at Christmas

We had a great time performing at the Celebrating Carers at Christmas concert held at the Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday 13th December.  It was a great honour to be performing with the prestigious musicians of the Metropolitan Brass Quintet.

16th December Carols in the Cornbow

 Once again we were joined by Lutley Primary School for singing and signing carols in the Cornbow in Halesowen.

“Thank you @HalasHomes & @LutleyPrimary for singing & signing @Cornbow today, over £100 raised for Halesowen In Bloom “

16th December Bulb Planting   Si+22415091811570_0001

Halesowen in Bloom asked Halas to help out and we were happy to oblige. Residents went into Halesowen and helped plant spring bulbs on the grass verge outside St Johns Church.

18th December Christingle at St Margaret’s

We welcomed pupils from St Margaret’s School who joined us at the Meeting Place to make Christingles ready for their Christmas service.

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We also attended the Christingle service where we watched the children perform their Nativity play and lit our candles during the service.


23rd December – The Limes

Our Sing and Sign group performed Christmas songs at The Limes Nursing Home

Christmas Fayre

Thank you to everyone who attended our Christmas Fayre and helped to make it a success raising £234.00.

 24th December – Christmas Pantomime

A lot of talented staff and service users were busy designing, creating and performing to delighted audiences.”

After many weeks of hard work the annual production came to life. Staff and service users really showcased their talents and creativity and this year the production was Shrek Saves Christmas.

Chris Johnson“Lots of smiles and laughter this morning at @HalasHomes as we look forward to Christmas day. Well done all.”



Our production of ‘Shrek Saves Christmas’ went down a storm at our Christmas Eve celebrations.

The performers and audience all enjoyed themselves. Even Father Christmas made time in his very busy schedule to pay us a visit to hand out some presents.


 Coffee Cups – Coffee Cups logo

December was very busy in Coffee Cups with Roz’s Christmas cakes being a firm favourite again this year.

We would like to thank everyone who had Christmas lunches or parties throughout the festive season.

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During January:

Si+224e16010713510_0001 We will also be holding another Social Media training course on Thursday 10th March 2016.

 A reminder, if you are wanting to keep fit and also help a good cause for 2016 why not join us .

Fun Run 4

 Looking forward to Spring  Spring-Flowers-Wallpaper-18


 We have some amazing volunteers who have tended to our allotment during the Christmas break. They have watered the cabbages and lettuce in the poly tunnel during the Christmas break.  They have also put down black sheeting on the beds to restrict weed growth and help keep the soil warm ready for spring planting.







A quick update of our hectic schedules



Halesowen Golf Range have kindly donated a beautiful Christmas tree to Halas Homes and it has really put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Thank you to Natalie and the staff for such a kind and generous donation. Residents think it is beautiful and love to see the lights shining in the evenings.

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A group from The Meeting place have been to see ‘Spectre’ followed by a pub lunch

James Bond

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Halloween Circus

A visit to Webb’s, at Hagley, for their spooky show full of Halloween themed acts. With an entirely human cast performing aerial acts, juggling feats, balancing acts and some crazy clown capers, this fang-tastic, spine-shivering show was great fun to watch.



 Horse Riding

It may be winter but we have been horse riding and we also give the horses some hay and a brush down, which they enjoy.

              Horse riding 1 Horse riding 2


We are back on the golf range practising both indoors and out at Halesowen Golf Club.

Golf 1     Golf 2



Regular rowing sessions have included helping in the sponsored rowathon at Dudley Rowing Club.

Rowing 1 (2)   Rowing 1 (1)


Sing & Sign

 This Sunday we will be performing at the Birmingham Town Hall for their Celebrating Carers at Christmas on Sunday 13th December.  Tickets are £6.50 each and are available either online via the Symphony Hall website or in person at Birmingham Town Hall.

We will also be singing and signing Christmas songs in the Halesowen Cornbow on Wednesday 16th December, 11.00am until 12.30pm.

Creative skills


We made beautiful poppies in the Day Centre. Thank you to every one who brought a poppy from us. We raised £210.38 for the Royal British Legion.  We also handcrafted a wreath which was laid at the Cenotaph outside St Johns Church in Halesowen on Remembrance Sunday.


Performance with Hypa Dance

 Hypa Dance

Halas Homes Dance Unity performed at the Dormston School as part of the HYPA Dance Show.  Below is a response from one of the audience.

It was a wonderful show and kept me transfixed to the stage.

 The finale was truly magical, bringing a tear to my eye. All the dancers came together to perform sing and sign.  I was very proud not only of my daughter, but also Dance Unity.  Well done to everyone.”


 The summer sunshine has disappeared but we carry on with our gardening. We continue to look after geraniums which are to be re-used and planted for Halesowen in Bloom and we have some winter cabbage growing. We have been clearing the allotment for next spring.

The residents put this pot together a few weeks ago; the violets have developed very well. Hope the bulbs develop in the spring too.

 Violets in pot

 Children in Need

We supported Children in Need on Friday 13th November by having a pyjama day along with a disco and a hunt Pudsey.  Thank you to everyone who supported the day.

CiN2015 Meeting Place    CiN2015 Home

Christmas Fayre

Thank you to everyone who helped make our Christmas Fayre a success. We raised £280.50 which is fantastic and really helps to support activities.

Christmas Fayre 1    Christmas Fayre 2

 Out in the community at our local Asda store

 Asda 1    Asda 2

              Asda 3

Thank you again to Sam Warby and the staff from Asda in Halesowen for letting us have the opportunity to do some fund raising in our local Halesowen store.  We always enjoy meeting people and letting them know what we do at Halas.

Join us!!!!!! In the Black Country Fun Run

 Fun Run 1

 We are now getting our training programme ready for taking part in next years run on Sunday 3rd July.

Last year we also had the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe run to help raise money for Halas Homes, along with a staff members’ son and we are very grateful to them for their hard work.


New years’ resolution???????

If your News Year resolution is to get fitter or if you just like running you are always welcome to join Team Halas and run/walk either the 10km or 5km road race next year.

Fun Run 4

Coffee Cups logo                C Cups Map

Coffee Cups

The run up to Christmas is keeping Coffee Cups very busy as their wonderful mince pies and Christmas cakes are selling like hot cakes??????

 Some feedback from our customers:

CCups 1     Mince pies

Santa     Halesowen In Bloom

We held yet another successful Social Media session at the beginning of December. Our next one is in March next year.

 Social Media

 Supporting Each Other

 We are supporting the Hope Centre in Halesowen by collecting donations. Below is a list of items you could donate.  If you need any more information please contact us.

 Op Santa


We are looking for a dancer who is willing to volunteer some of their time to teach members of our Meeting Place some ballroom dancing.



MUSICAL NOTESAnd finally on that dancing note look out next week for our blog

A quick update of our hectic schedules

Let us entertain you!


It’s all about singing, dancing, acting and creativity at the moment and the theme is set to continue right up to December with rehearsals for plays, carol concerts and community engagement events!

 Hagley Roman Catholic high School – Thursday 8th Nov

The Thursday group in the Meeting Place always look forward to our annual visit to Hagley Roman Catholic High School. Pupils as usual were waiting to meet us this year and greeted us off our mini bus. The school ensures residents from Halas Homes are escorted into school and this year there was a drumming session in which we could take part. There were various percussion instruments and the drumming teacher made sure everyone was involved.   We are grateful that this local school is always so welcoming to Halas Homes.


 We had a great night at the AGM for Dudley CVS and our music group was asked to perform. We had some fantastic comments from people at the event! Thank you to Eileen and all the staff who were involved with the event.  We would also like to thank the staff at Brierley Hill Civic who made us feel so welcome and included during the evening.

  • please see link to see what a great event this is –

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AGM – Langstone

 The Langstone Society asked our dance group to perform at their AGM and again this was a fabulous event where we met up with a lot of our friends in the community.  Once again the staff at Brierley Hill Civic made us very welcome.

Some more great feedback at the event was also received.

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  Celebrating carers at Christmas

 We are excited to be performing at The Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday 13 December at 11am. Don’t forget to book your tickets for this event as it promises to be fantastic as the Metropolitan Brass Quintet will also be performing.

Halesowen In Bloom   Si+22415091811570_0001

 We have been busy potting up all the geraniums that we brought back from outside Halesowen Church this week.  We are hoping that they will overwinter with success so we can use them when we design the area by St John’s Halesowen Church which we are going to adopt.

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 Coffee Cups Coffee Cups logo



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Members of our Day Centre have been busy making these beautiful poppies and all proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion.

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 Poppies are available in Coffee Cups, our social enterprise coffee shop, and we are getting some lovely comments.

 We are taking orders for Christmas lunch, served from the 16th November. We have limited tables from 14th – 18th December.

Our Christmas cakes are proving to be really popular!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. What a lovely present for someone on their own this Christmas.

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West Midland Safari Park

We have been getting into the frightening festivities for Halloween with a visit to West Midland Safari Park for their Spooky Spectacular.

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Thank you Asda for letting us have the opportunity to do some fund raising in your local Halesowen store. We love being out and about in our local community

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Look after your good memories to uplift yourself!


This week’s theme was memories and, by using the image below which represents a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, clients discussed the importance of creating memories and experiences and what makes events memorable. Ribbons represent necklaces and each bead has a treasured memory.

The sea, birthdays and Christmas were found to be important as well as photos for keepsakes.

It was a colourful experience

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Life skills

Some members of the meeting place enjoyed a lovely Autumn walk into Halesowen to do some shopping in readiness for life skills cookery.

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 Health and Wellbeing

Our healthy walking group also walked to Halesowen and visited the grounds of St John’s churchyard to see wildlife. It seems there are lots of squirrels about at the moment.


Looking ahead there are a lot of events which we will be sharing over the next few months.

We are looking forward to this once again this year


Staff and service users are busy planning, rehearsing and making scenery for the Christmas play. More information to follow nearer the date.

4th December – Christmas Fayre in the Day Centre, The Meeting Place

16th December – Carols in the Cornbow  #community

Last but not least we enjoyed a lovely morning at Cannon Hill Park feeding the geese this week.

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And it seems we left the geese at Cannon Hill Park JUMPING for joy that we had paid them a visit!!!!!014











Let us entertain you!