As part of his final year at Doubletrees School in Par, which caters for those with complex learning difficulties, 19 year old Andrew has been developing his personal and work skills by volunteering at Trewithen Gardens
Andrew has learning difficulties which means he struggles in a work situation. In the nurturing environment of the award-winning garden, however, he has blossomed and found a possible career path.
Over the last year, Andrew has visited Trewithen once a week to complete a variety of gardening jobs – some needing specific skills, some just plain hard work.
“Being at Trewithen has made a real difference,” explained Jordan Fairclough, Andrew’s Teaching Assistant. “He’s learnt vital work skills and mixing with the other volunteers – working on a job together or just sharing a cup of tea – has taught him valuable interactive skills.”
Andrew’s first job was to re-design the Rose Garden – the central feature of Trewithen’s small arboretum. Over a number of weeks he took out every plant, re-shaped and refreshed the beds then re-planted the roses.
“The Rose Garden is my favourite part of Trewithen – I did it all myself,” said Andrew. “I really like roses. I enjoy all the work I do here – it’s much better than being in the classroom, even when it’s raining and cold.”
The opportunity to work at Trewithen came when Head Gardener, Gary Long, was approached by staff at Doubletrees school who asked if he would be willing to allow Andrew and a Teaching Assistant to join the gardens’ team of volunteers once a week.
“I was happy to have them,” said Gary, “Andrew isn’t a gardener but he does some really helpful work. He was really quiet when he arrived but he’s been mixing with a diverse group of volunteers – mainly retired – including a landlady, a site manager and a tin miner. He’s really come out of his shell and seems to be having a good time on top of learning some useful transferable skills and doing vital maintenance work.”