Volunteers create sensory garden for people with learning disabilities

A team of big-hearted volunteers swapped spreadsheets for spades when they took a day out of the office to create a brand new sensory garden at a Leeds disability service.

The service, which is managed by Hft, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities, is home to three men aged between 20 and 35. Their disabilities mean that they live with a range of complex needs, including mobility and communication issues, so require constant support from service staff.

On Wednesday 24 May, twelve volunteers from Asda’s Head Office in Leeds helped to lay paving slabs, create a Japanese rockery area and plant shrubs specially chosen for their textures and colours. A sensory shed at the bottom of the garden was decorated with lights and silks, and equipped with soft balls and reflective items.

Incorporating a range of sounds and textures, the new garden is designed to stimulate the senses and allow the residents to experience the outdoors in a safe and stress-free environment.

The team also had the chance to meet the residents and chat to support staff about what life is like for people with learning disabilities.

Support worker Leanne is delighted with the results. “The three gentlemen who live here all use wheelchairs, so getting out and about requires a lot of support and planning. Now they can explore a whole new spectrum of colours, sights and sensations right on their doorstep. They’re such brilliant people – they deserve it!”

Dannielle Jeffers, Asda’s Local Marketing Coordinator, said: “At Asda, we’re all really proud of the great work our colleagues do to support local good causes.  We don’t often get the opportunity as a team to get out and support the local community, so it’s great for us to get involved and do a bit of a team building whilst making a real difference.  It’s great that Asda also give colleagues two ‘Give and Gain’ days per year to volunteer, this is to go out and support the community during working hours, so we’re putting this to good use here at Hft Leeds.”

“Hft Leeds really stood out to us. We admired how they go beyond the role of a support provider to develop effective services to truly help people live the life they choose.”

About Hft

Hft is a national charity supporting more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities across England to live the best life possible. Established in 1962, the charity uses its own unique Fusion Model to consistently deliver high quality, person-centered support across all its services.

Services range from supported living to residential care – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.

For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk

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