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Garden transformation by volunteers at learning disability service in Barnet

Learning disability service run by national charity Hft has been given a makeover thanks to the hard work of volunteers who have been involved with their garden transformation.

The generous group from Welbeck Health Partners embarked on a two-part volunteering mission, seeing them raise funds for a much-needed garden renovation at their local Hft service in Barnet, which supports ten adults to live in their own homes, and then bring the ambitious project to life.

To raise the £2,000 needed for the garden work, the health professionals took on fundraising activities ranging from a bake sale to a sponsored swim by the organisation’s CFO. A team of 25 then spent a day in October getting their hands dirty at the service, where they transformed the outdoor area from an unused basic space to a sensory garden for people supported at the service, all of whom have sensory impairment. 

garden Transformation carried out by volunteers

Tasks taken on included clearing the garden, painting walls and a shed, assembling and digging new flower beds and fitting a brand new water fountain. The volunteers also had the chance to meet people living at the service, who showed them round and even helped out with planting flowers, herbs and vegetables. 

Lorna Bird, Programme Coordinator at Hft, said: “We’re so grateful to the team from Welbeck Health Partners for taking the time out to see this project through from start to finish. The renovation has been a huge success with staff and people supported at the service, who are delighted with the new and vibrant space, which is full to the brim of sensory equipment. It’s great to see a vegetable and herb patch that will come in handy for cooking, and several benches to provide a space for people to relax and enjoy their new environment.”

Incorporating a range of sounds and textures, the garden transformation is designed to stimulate all five senses and allow people to experience the outdoors in a safe and stress-free environment. Sensory items include a path in the middle of the garden made up of four different textures, colourful flowers set to stimulate the sense of smell, a shed painted in different colours and a wall painted with blackboard paint.

Karen, who is supported at the Hft service, said: “I was very pleased and excited to see our new garden transformation. The blackboard wall is brilliant – I can use it to write down my thoughts. I’m also excited to see the flowers grow.”

Ben Harrison, CFO at Welbeck Health Partners, said: “It was such a pleasure to be involved in this garden transformation project – helping Hft with their goal of boosting independence and fulfilment for their residents.  It was great to see our team working through the extremely challenging October weather to build the key foundations of the sensory garden – and even better to see them working with many of the residents to plant up the borders and get the garden transformation off to a great start.

“We wish Hft and the residents all the best and will be back in the Spring to check on the green shoots of progress.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country. This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

For more information about learning disabilities, please visit

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