Swapping desks and laptops for mud and spades: two volunteering days for Scope

Tim and Aline both work for Virgin Media, one of Scope’s corporate partners. They spent a day out of the office volunteering at two of our schools, Meldreth Manor and Ingfield Manor. Here are their experiences. 

“All the team wants to go back.” Aline

I was fortunate enough to spend the day at Scope’s Meldreth Manor School grounds with four other colleagues.

Our mission for the day was to clear an area in the grounds and lay hardcore, ready for artificial grass for the sensory garden at a level wheelchairs can safely go over.

With the lovely support of John, the site manager, there we were! Armed with wheelbarrows, shovels and other gardening tools, we started by clearing the ground of dead leaves and branches.Four men standing in a garden with a wheelbarrow and shovels

Next we split into two teams, one would bring the hardcore and the other team would spread it evenly across the ground.

Half a day passed and we broke for lunch. We met John again who explained that there  is only a team of four responsible for the maintenance of the 22 acre site – that’s mind blowing! All the extra work that needs to be carried out is purely done by volunteers. The staff  have their hands full just with maintenance as it is, let alone having time for improvements. That gave us even more courage to continue and ensured we want to go back.

After lunch, John showed us around the school, through classrooms, sensory rooms,  and a kitchen where the children learn vital life skills. I was quite overwhelmed with the  different  kinds of accessible devices that were tailor-made for each person. It’s thanks to donations that Scope can source these custom-made devices so that the children can be more independent. And it’s up to us to give Scope the necessary resources so they can continue to do what they do best.

In the afternoon we continued with our labour, and at the end of the day we managed to spread six out of the 20 tonnes of hardcore.

All the team wants to go back and continue to support as best as we can this amazing charity.

I cannot give enough thanks to John and the lovely teachers that we meet that day, you are true inspirations!

“Wow! A day of coppicing!” Tim

I was one of four people who swapped our suits, laptops and mobile phones for wellies, gardening gloves and very different tools of the trade… bow saws, loppers, axes and billhooks!

Wow! A day of coppicing!

For us, this was a volunteering day to help the wonderful David on his vast project to transform the woodland at Ingfield Manor, an amazing school ran by Scope.A man using garden shears to cut some vegetation

Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management, which still continues widely today.  Naturally wooded areas will continue to grow and if left untamed become deserts for wildlife and ecosystems.  Too much shade cuts off growth at ground level. Coppicing makes way for sunlight and then the dormant vegetation awakens.

David has divided his Woodland into six zones. We worked on zone two. He’s still got a long way to go. But you can already see the buds of wildflowers emerging and the insects that live off the moist ground. David told me he regularly finds micTwo men working in a garden to secure a net around the base of a treee and toads, which live off the insects they find.  And some relatively rare buzzards keep returning to catch their prey. I saw one overhead, an amazing sight with its wings spread in full.

Our coppicing focused mainly on hazel, with a little bit of ash too; making pea-sticks to sell in the local garden centre, and stakes and runners to build natural fences.  The clearing of the ground is also allowing David to gradually build a sensory experience for the children, helping them achieve in ways that were previously not open to them.

My colleague wrote: “For me it was an incredibly rewarding Four men in wellies sitting around an open fire, drinking cups of teaexperience meeting some of the children. Together with David’s insight into the woodland project and the school, children and staff it was a day I will never forget!”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. When was the last time you said the same about your day?

If you’d like to get involved with some volunteering for Scope, have a look at our current opportunities and get in touch!