Ravenswood Village did not just become Shmuel’s family, it also became an extension of ours
My name is Fraidy and Ravenswood has been my brother Shmuel’s home for the past 35 years.
Shmuel was born in 1980 as the youngest of 7 children at the time. By the time he reached his first birthday, it was clear that there was something different about him. Back in the early 1980s, there was very little awareness and support to the special needs community (then referred to as handicapped). As a result, my parents struggled with trying to provide the appropriate care he desperately needed.
We were so relieved we found Ravenswood
After many agonising and worrying months they finally found their solution. At 5 years old, on the 11th of November 1985, Shmuel was welcomed with open arms to a place he would call home for the rest of his life. The village was perfect; and for the first time, my parents could finally relax with the knowledge that Shmuel was where he belonged and would be taken care of.
Ravenswood Village did not just become Shmuel’s family, it also became an extension of ours. I was born 7 years after Shmuel, and my childhood memories are filled with Ravenswood.
Every Sunday and school holiday, we would pack into the car and travel on the M4 to visit Shmuel. We would slowly enter the quiet village, where we would drive through the beautiful grounds, full of residents walking freely around.
As we parked, we would be greeted by friends in the village who knew our name as we did theirs. We would then go to Shmuel’s Chalet, where we would spend time indoors with him and his family, which included fellow residents and staff.
Activities give Shmuel a lot of joy, and seeing him benefit from them reinforces that Ravenswood was the best decision we made for him.
Sometimes, we would take walks on the grounds with him. We would peacefully walk on the grass, occasionally stopping to see the animals, or other residents. Seeing Shmuel in this free large environment made us so happy. We knew he would never have these opportunities in a city, and we were so relieved we found Ravenswood.
Shmuel’s needs are complex. He is non-verbal and is completely dependent on others for his self-care needs. Whilst his communication abilities are limited, his wonderful staff are equipped to understand and support him through his expressions or change in behaviour. Routine, such as mealtimes and self-care patterns are very important to him, as they provide a sense of process and time. His mobility has recently taken a turn for the worse and he uses a wheelchair when going outside.
Ravenswood provides a range of activities which include community outings, horse carriage riding, country walks, music sessions, aromatherapy and swimming, as well as celebrating Jewish holidays and rituals which are meaningful to him.
We are so grateful that Shmuel is part of this welcoming and caring family
My siblings and I are grown with our own families, with most of us living abroad. Although we do not see Shmuel as often as we would like, knowing that he is in the best place gives us great comfort.
When my parents gave up their car for a few years, and found the journey difficult, the staff would willingly bring Shmuel to a mutual area that was accessible for my parents. They would offer the same every time me and my siblings come to London and do not have the facilities to travel to Ravenswood.
We are so grateful that Shmuel is part of this welcoming and caring family and hope that this will continue for the rest of his life.
Ravenswood Village is currently under consultation with the possibility of closure. Please show your support for our families and friends to keep their home by signing the petition below. These are vulnerable people who deserve to continue to live where they feel happy, loved and safe.