Avon Tyrrell grounds Flourishing thanks to volunteer help

21 June 2024

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The grounds at UK Youth’s outdoor learning centre in the New Forest are flourishing thanks to some extra-special attention.

Avon Tyrrell’s 65-acre site, near Bransgore, is benefiting from the work of volunteers from Flourish in Nature, a community interest company, which supports people with additional needs to lend a hand in nature.

David Watts, UK Youth director of outdoor learning, said: “Maintaining our grounds is a big task and we are very fortunate to have ongoing volunteering support.

They were a great help in the lead up to Princess Anne’s visit last October – cleaning out the pond and helping to cut back hedges along the driveway. They have brought our polytunnel back to life – clearing it of brambles and weeds, so it can once again be used for growing plants and vegetables.

“The results are clear to see and have impressed staff and visitors alike, particularly our groundskeeper Dave Clark.

“Everyone at Avon Tyrrell is passionate about inclusion and committed to being a fully accessible centre, providing everyone with the same opportunities to experience, learn and develop through adventure and discovery. We are proud to share this with Flourish in Nature and so grateful for their amazing efforts.”

The grounds at Avon Tyrrell are thriving thanks to support from Flourish in Nature CIC.

This week is learning disability week, organised by national charity Mencap. This year’s theme is “Do you see me?”, which is all about being seen, heard and valued.

And it was a desire to help people with additional needs be seen that led to Bransgore-based Flourish in Nature, as directors Paul Naidu and Lisa Grabsch combined their backgrounds in horticulture and social care.

Lisa, aged 43, said: “You couldn’t see any people with additional needs taking part in conservation tasks in the New Forest area. They’re not part of that community that’s particularly visible, so that’s what inspired us to bridge that gap, Can we be those people who’ve got the experience of supporting people with additional needs?”

Flourish in Nature has been helping tend the heritage grounds of Avon Tyrrell every week since September.

Paul, 59, said: “So many people come and visit Avon Tyrrell, so it was about letting our adults that we support to be seen by others, to show there is a value to what everybody can bring, for example helping with Avon Tyrrell’s grounds maintenance.

“And they are being seen, that they are part of that community helping look after and maintain that amazing environment that’s accessed by so many.”

A Flourish in Nature CIC volunteer hard at work in the grounds at Avon Tyrrell.

Daniel Hoyle, aged 33, who has a heart condition and learning disability, has been working with Flourish at Avon Tyrrell since September.

Daniel is particularly helpful with the clearing up tasks after the team has been busy, raking up and removing the waste away in the wheelbarrow. The regular rhythm of the daily tasks brings stability and Daniel’s confidence has grown by enabling him to make choices during the working day.

Paul said: “He loves coming. When you talk about it, or when Flourish is mentioned, you see the smile on his face and a thumbs-up.

“He comes along and it’s great for his wellbeing, to get out in nature and do purposeful activities outside.”

Lisa said: “It is rewarding. It’s a double reward, because we see the difference at Avon Tyrrell and we see the people we support enjoy it.”

It is rewarding. It’s a double reward, because we see the difference at Avon Tyrrell and we see the people we support enjoy it.

Lisa Grabsch, Flourish in Nature CIC director

As well as clearing the overgrown polytunnel, work at Avon Tyrrell has included winter leaf-clearing, weeding and general tidying. A recent project has been to add colour and texture by planting up nine stone urns that front the main house and ensuring they are watered and cared for every week.

Paul said: “It’s all those little attentions to detail, even the cleaning of signs, for example, simple tasks, because we want to empower the people with us to be able to take on the role of helping others. With those little jobs, you can empower somebody to be able to do it no matter what their skillset is.

Lisa said: “You can see a difference and it’s so nice to know we’re making that difference to the visitors and staff at Avon Tyrrell, but also for the people we support.”

Avon Tyrrell is continually developing opportunities to work with local community groups and individuals, opportunities which gives back to young people by supporting the upkeep of the site for the enjoyment and use of the natural environment.

For further details, contact Suzi Horrocks, UK Youth outdoor learning admin officer, at suzi.horrocks@ukyouth.org or on 01425 672347.

David Watts, UK Youth director of outdoor learning.

About UK Youth

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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