Tag Archives: garden

There’s no sign outside: it’s just my home – #100days100stories

Guest post from Tony, who lived at Scope’s Lingfield Avenue care home in Surbiton until it closed in November 2014. He now lives in supported housing nearby. Tony’s story is part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

It’s important to me to be independent. I’ve had a couple of jobs – one in an off-license serving customers, one in a stables working with horses, one in a music shop.

At the moment I’m working in a garden centre in the grounds of Springfield Hospital in Tooting. In an ideal world I’d like to work with children with special needs or learning disabilities. I had a voluntary job in a school for students with special needs for five years.

Living in a care home

I’m 47 now, and I lived at Lingfield Avenue (pictured above) for close on 20 years. Some parts of it were good and some parts of it were bad. When I first went there, there was no lift at all, so wheelchair occupants couldn’t get up to the second floor. Some people would have to overreach for the sink because it wasn’t at their height. All the bathrooms were shared.

I didn’t feel I had the support to live as independently as my disability would allow. It was just the way it was run, I suppose – I felt it did not allow residents to realise their potential.

Moving out

When the word got out that Lingfield Avenue might be closing, and I was made aware of it, it was a shock. In a way it was a bad thing, but in a way it was a good thing. For me it was good, because I’d always wanted to move somewhere that was less care-orientated.

One of my social workers said to me that I could try my own flat, but I wasn’t ready for that, and I’m still not now. So they found me the place I live now, which is supported housing.

Tony using his laptop in his room

I share with a few other residents, and compared to Lingfield Avenue it’s brilliant. You can use whatever independence you’ve got, and the staff really encourage you to do so.

Being more independent 

You can do your own cooking – anything you want to do really. I keep asking one member of staff if I can make my own breakfast, and he says, “you know you can, you don’t have to ask me!”

They say to me, “If you need help, just shout out and we’ll be there.” So far I haven’t had to ask for it much, but that doesn’t mean I can’t ask.

Exercise book with handwritten notes about gardening
Tony keeps detailed notes of his work at the garden centre

I had to get used to a new area, new bus routes. As yet I haven’t gone from here to Tooting by bus, but I’m itching to try it. One of the other things I like about living here is that they haven’t got a sign outside saying what the organisation is. It’s more homely, because there’s no label – it’s just a person’s home, rather than ‘residential accommodation’.

Looking ahead

In the future I’d like to find some form of paid employment again, because I don’t only want to help myself, I want to help the general public.

I’m happier now I’m established here, and I’m far more independent. One day, when I’m ready for it, I quite like the sound of moving into my own flat.

Read the rest of the stories from our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

A great big fat garden stuffed with love…

Guest post from Emma Goddard – Life Skills Tutor at Scope’s Roman House

Roman House garden makeover

So, what do you get if you take, six medical scientists from Eli Lilly, a weekly volunteer called Steph, one Life skills tutor, a Employee Volunteer co-ordinator and a bus full of plants? A great big fat garden stuffed with love, that’s what.

On Thursday 11 October 2012 we kicked off the day with a big goal to transform our bungalow gardens.

It was great, all the tools were ready, thanks to employee volunteering who provided, forks, spades, shears, loppers and enthusiasm.

And off we went, in the lashing rain, chopping and lopping, like an episode of Edward Scissorhands. By lunchtime the plot was cleared, and our damp crew were off down the chip shop for well-deserved carbs. I love lunchtimes with volunteers, because that’s when the connections happen between our customers and the outside world. Also, when else do you get to ask a medical scientist if they have watched Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein…

In the afternoon it was planting up, we have chosen many light reflective plants to brighten the patch up, and over 700 spring bulbs were buried into the ground. It’s going to look amazing in February, March and April with so many tulips and daffodils.

But the highlight of the day was when our customer Jon Conway, came back from his day in town and his eyes popped out of his head! I have never seen a bigger smile.

Volunteering in Scope, Roman House, doesn’t just mean a beautiful garden, it gives our customers and staff a legacy of self-esteem and confidence. Someone thought of us, and we were worth the effort.


Drummonds residents sensory garden

Drummonds gardeners

In 2011 leading designer and manufacturer of ergonomic tools, PETA UK, donated a selection of Easi-Grip® gardening tools to the residents of Scope’s Drummonds residential care home in Feering to enable them to make the most of their beautiful sensory garden.

A year later, PETA Managing Director Genny Crockett visited Drummonds, which is home to 39 adults with physical disabilities and other needs associated with cerebral palsy, to see how they are getting on with the tools!

Resident Karen, who has lived at Drummonds for 30 years, explained that Drummonds approached Writtle College and asked if they could help with a new garden design to create a sensory garden. “It was a wonderful idea because it gives us something different and fun to do. It took about five years of planning and a lot of fundraising, but it was all well worth it. We thoroughly enjoy it, sitting out in the evenings when it’s nice, and everyone chips in and helps with the gardening. We get out as often as possible and have gardening lessons once a week which is really interesting. The garden gives us a bit of peace and quiet too! I love it because it reminds me of my dad who always enjoyed gardening so it’s a nice way to remember him.”

Passion for gardening

Karen’s passion for gardening has been somewhat restricted over the years as she struggles with standard gardening tools: “It’s frustrating because I know what I want to do but can’t do it! Conventional gardening tools are out of the question but, because of the way they are designed, the Peta tools give me the ability to do gardening and enjoy it.”

Debbie Foster has been a tutor at the Drummonds Centre for six years and teaches the weekly gardening lessons. “We were delighted with the donation from Peta last year! We have so many different physical challenges among residents so it’s difficult to find products they can all use, but they adapt the Peta tools to a way that suits them. They have definitely helped the residents, who find getting out in the fresh air and actually doing something for themselves gives them a real sense of well-being.”

Genny Crockett was delighted to visit the centre and see the residents enjoying their garden with the use of Peta tools: “It really is great to see how our tools are helping the residents enjoy their garden and achieve something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. They have done a fantastic job developing their sensory garden and I can see why they all love spending time in it. Our ergonomic tools cater for a wide spectrum of users, so it’s important for us to understand how people of all abilities find our products, and it was really interesting to see how each resident had their own method and style of use.”

Peta products, including gardening tools, kitchen utensils and scissors, have been designed in response to feedback from occupational therapists.

Volunteers bring sensory garden to life

Scope gardening volunteers

A group of 11 volunteers from the Hatfield Job Centre in Hertfordshire have battled their way through a forest of nettles after all the rain and glorious sunshine we have had in the past month, to bring our beautiful sensory garden back to its full glory. They are only one of several groups of people who have donated many hours to help us bring this vision of a parent into full fruition.

The residents of Orchard Manor transition service and students of Meldreth Manor School can now seek respite from the sun and enjoy the smell of lavender and thyme as those plants flourish in the garden.

Our young people have made bird houses and a large watering vessel for the birds who visit the garden and these will soon be in place.

The garden would not be here without the dedicated groups of volunteers who have helped us throughout the year and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work.

Volunteer for your local Scope service now!