I have worked at Furzey Gardens for more than 20 years using horticultural in lots of different ways to help people with their physical health, their mental health, their emotional health.

It just works – I have seen the impact on people with learning disabilities many times.

We had a young man in recently, he’s on the Autistic Spectrum, he comes with the support of his Dad actually, which is unusual but they said, ‘Oh, we see you’ve got an aluminium bench’. It was flat-packed, 236 bolts and they said ‘Would you like us to put that together?’

And he was so dexterous, he was asking for tools, asking for screws, obviously you’d have to know him to know that his level of communication and social skills and interaction was very very low, but this just brought out the best in him.

We all have a faith that people have got something that they can excel at and its just that lovely challenge of finding the key that unlocks that.

Going back a few years, I remember a young woman, again on the Autistic Spectrum who had quite a severe noise sensitivity, so for people who coughed or laughed she would find that very difficult.

So every now and then, well quite often most days actually, she would have to have some time out. So we found that she really enjoyed sketching, so we’d find a quiet corner for her in this peaceful setting. We’d find her a quiet corner, give her some crayons and some paper and she’s sketch away or she’d sketch some of the plants in the nursery and they were so good. We ended up using some of them as Christmas cards, greetings cards and it is just great to find that key to unlock that potential.

There are also major successes in people’s lives. I can remember actually being quite moved when one of those young people moved on, he moved away down to Cornwall but we heard that he’d actually got a job at a garden centre and that was lovely.

Subscribe to our newsletter

By signing up to this mailing list you are consenting to receive our marketing and fundraising emails.