This volunteering scheme brings life skills to so many

AT YOUR SERVICE Ryan Bodsworth, a gardener at Staunton, assisting James Rockingham and Ashley Beech to use the till
AT YOUR SERVICE Ryan Bodsworth, a gardener at Staunton, assisting James Rockingham and Ashley Beech to use the till
The Highfield Campus at the University of Southampton, which is home to the George Thomas Building. Picture: Geograph

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LAST Wednesday evening Staunton Country Park held its first late-night plant sales event.

While the rain might have dampened the enthusiasm of many, it had little impact on the excitement and willingness to assist from four of the supported volunteers who work at Staunton each week.

Ashley Beech, James Rockingham, Lexi Saunders and Catherine Turner worked with the Staunton garden team, ensuring that customers received the correct advice and information and had help loading any purchases to their cars.

The supported volunteers work within the The Right to Work social firm, which grew out of a partnership between Staunton Country Park, Highbury College and Havant Day Services.

This successful partnership has allowed both education and day services for those with learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) to be provided at Staunton.

Nationally only four per cent of the LDD community are in paid employment.

For those unable to work independently, the lack of daily challenge, fulfilment and sufficient independence are cited as likely contributors to the high level of mental health issues that face those with LDD by middle age.

The Right to Work aims to improve the life opportunities for people with LDD.

There are many jobs at the park that can be done by volunteers of all abilities.

The Right to Work offers daily work activities to those with LDD who can and want to work, but require ongoing support and guidance to achieve this.

Since October 2012 our numbers have grown – we now have 28 people completing a total of 46 volunteering days per week.