A team of big-hearted volunteers swapped spreadsheets for spades when they took a day out of the office to regenerate the garden at a Bristol disability service.

Apsley House is managed by Hft, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities. It provides supported living services for eighteen adults with a range of disabilities, from mild autism to complex physical and intellectual needs. On Thursday 26 October, thirteen volunteers from Lloyds Bank’s Mid Markets office in Bristol took up the challenge of giving their garden a new lease of life.

The volunteers helped to clear weeds, build raised vegetable beds and create pathways. New sensory elements included a water feature area and plants and flowers specially chosen for their texture, scent and colour.

The garden, which was part-designed by people supported at the service, also incorporates a secluded area with a bench and pergola where residents can go when they need some privacy, or want to spend time with their partner.

On the day, the team had the chance to meet the residents and chat to support staff. Several supported individuals also helped out with the day’s activities, which included providing tea and biscuits, and cooking a BBQ lunch once the work was done.

Service Manager Claire Smith is delighted with the results. “The garden wasn’t used much before now, as parts of it weren’t fully accessible and held little interest for the people we support. Now they’re really looking forward to spending more time there, and are especially excited about planting and growing their own vegetables!”

Apsley House resident Adrian said: “I did a lot of digging, planting and helping with emptying the wheelbarrows. I definitely want to continue being more involved in the gardening.” Another resident, Jane, added: “I was really pleased with the confidence everyone had in me for doing the barbecue because I’ve never cooked on one before. I’d like to do it again.”

Adam Russell, Associate Relationship Manager at Lloyds Bank, echoed their sentiments: “This was a really rewarding project and I am glad we had the opportunity to help. We got to meet and work alongside some great people and were all very pleased that we were able to give the garden a new lease of life.”

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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-centred 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

Information about learning disabilities

A learning disability can be mild, moderate, severe or profound and is defined as having a reduced ability to:

  • Understand new or complex information
  • Learn new skills
  • Live independently

For more information about learning disabilities, please visit www.hft.org.uk/resources-and-guidance