A group of Sunderland workers have dug deep to help create safe, attractive and welcoming outdoor areas for a local charity that supports people with autism.
The Helping Hands scheme from EDF Energy, based at Doxford International Business Park, pledged to transform the grounds of the North East Autism Society (NEAS) centres across Sunderland in a year-long project.
Over the past 12 months, EDF Energy volunteers have spent more than 200 hours carrying out improvements to the grounds of Thornhill Park School and children’s residential homes Ashton Way and Meldon House.
In the latest volunteering session at Thornhill Park School volunteers transformed the grounds carrying out a variety of tasks, including clearing the gardens, preparing turf planting areas and painting fences.
Nathan Bruce, Volunteer Co-ordinator for NEAS, said: “The team from EDF Energy carried out a real-life ‘extreme makeover’ on our grounds, transforming over-grown areas into space that the children and young people can enjoy.
“The different areas created and the plants used will appeal to and stimulate the senses of our service users. The teams have done such a fantastic job, we can’t wait to start using the garden areas regularly.
“We would never have thought they could look like this, and it couldn’t have been achieved without the Helping Hands of EDF Energy.”
The North East Autism Society provides support for those on the autism spectrum throughout the region with parent and toddler groups, after school clubs, holiday clubs, two schools, a college, residential care, supported living, social and vocational training and supported employment.
Thornhill Park School is an independent specialist school for children and young people with autism.
Emma Shearer, Community Investment Specialist at EDF Energy, said: “Now that the gardens are complete the children and families can use the area to plant their own plants, have picnics and they will be able to enjoy the grounds safely.
“When we first saw the areas it seemed it would be one of the most difficult projects that the Helping Hands had been involved in. However, all of the teams were up for the challenge and the results have been amazing.”
The EDF Energy’s Helping Hands projects are designed not only to benefit local people, they also provide personal development and team-building opportunities for staff.