Green fingered workers swapped their office for the day to help a north east charity transform gardens across Wearside.
Employees from Northumbrian Water volunteered to support the North East Autism Society with a gardening project in their children’s residential homes in Sunderland.
The 18-strong team were willing to lend a hand as part of the company’s ‘Just an hour’ scheme which allows each employee to give at least 15 hours of paid work time back to local communities.
This project was particularly close to the team’s heart.
Customer Care Advisor at the water company, David Mortemore’s son, Harry, aged four, was recently diagnosed with autism.
David, from Langley Park, said: "It was difficult to take it in at first but since he’s been diagnosed I’ve learnt so much about autism. It’s the simple things that become so important to kids with the condition and I know Harry loves running around in the garden so hopefully the kids here will enjoy seeing the gardens cleaned up.
"Today has been a great opportunity and the North East Autism Society have been so helpful, it’s nice to be able to give something back. The day has been brilliant and even the weather has been a friend."
Nichola Shields, Customer Care Team Leader at Northumbrian Water, led the team of volunteers.
She said: "It’s been absolutely fantastic. The team has worked really well together - we’ve got all the weeds out, painted the table and chairs, potted plants and mown the lawn. We’ve achieved a lot – the men are like Groundforce!"
Christine Stothard, Registered Manager at Meldan House, Sunderland, said: "The gardens can become a mess because the children have sensory issues so they don’t like the sound of the lawn mower, and staff don’t have the time.
"By Northumbrian Water supporting us here today it makes such a difference. It’s fantastic how people can be so keen and dedicated, and everyone was getting stuck in. It looks great."
The North East Autism Society is the largest specialist provider of support and services for people with autism in the north east. For further information about the North East Autism Society, log on to www.ne-as.org.uk.
This volunteering day coincides with the launch of the charity’s new volunteering programme.
Lynn Renwick, Volunteer Development Officer, said: "We have lots of ways volunteers can help the charity provide help and support for children, young people and adults with autism. In these tough times we need as much help as possible and we welcome the help and support volunteers can offer."
For further information contact Janine Scott on 0191 301 5538 or Janine.email@example.com