This is an archived news story which is over 12 months old and may contain out of date information

A thriving partnership

For the last four years AWE’s partnership with local gardening for health charity, Thrive, has seen mutual benefits for both organisations.

AWE’s support has been demonstrated in numerous ways – including corporate volunteering days and fundraising – to help Thrive’s clients achieve, aspire and grow through a range of social and therapeutic horticultural (STH) programmes.

We initially provided funding for Thrive’s gardens and then, more specifically, for the delivery of its general STH sessions. These sessions support adults that may be living with a variety of different needs, such as disability, long-term health conditions, mental health support needs, sensory impairment or autism. Clients’ activities focus on goals identified by the individual, their family, carer or support worker to help in their progression.

Like many charities, Thrive was badly impacted during the pandemic so an AWE donation helped provide essential personal protective equipment (PPE), enabling Thrive to welcome client gardeners back to the gardens as soon as it was safe to do so.

AWE’s most recent support is for Thrive’s Pots & Petals programme – an interactive programme for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (and some with life limiting conditions). It is run by Vicki, one of Thrive’s Horticultural Practitioners, who has been supporting students from The Avenue School in Reading (a special needs academy) with a tailored programme that uses the natural environment for sensory stimulation.

Over the past four years our two-way partnership with Thrive has provided online talks to AWE staff on both health & wellbeing and Makaton – a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. Thrive has also shared some great resources, such as wellbeing calendars and a cultivating wellbeing tool.

AWE teams have also attended Thrive corporate volunteering days providing them with a day of physical activity through which they can socialise and share a joint sense of achievement and wellbeing as well as undertaking tasks that Thrive’s client gardeners are unable to manage, and in doing so help maintain the garden.

In addition to all this amazing activity, individual AWE staff have undertaken their own fundraising activities for Thrive such as sales of bakes and books, Christmas fayres, ‘Pledge to Plant’ and the PruRide cycling challenge. In total, around £120,000 – through fundraising and donations – has been given to Thrive over the last four years.

Helping clients like Rebecca

When Rebecca first came to Thrive, she had a lack of confidence interacting with others, often choosing to spend time away from her group during lunchbreaks. After a lot of support and encouragement from the team at Thrive, she has changed so much, and cherishes the friendships she has formed there.

Rebecca has a learning disability and despite feeling more comfortable socialising with others at Thrive, she still battles with her sense of self-belief to achieve tasks. However, with some gentle encouragement from her Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioner Michele and from her friends at Thrive, she is able to achieve anything she sets her mind to.

Michele comments: “Rebecca is an absolute joy to be around. She’s always got a smile on her face. She’s also gaining confidence, which is great to see because I just want her to believe in herself as she’s got all the great attributes there. I’m really pleased with her progress.

Learning a new skill and achieving a task is always a big boost to Rebecca. As Rebecca’s confidence has grown at Thrive, this has also enabled her to go on and get a job at a local café in Reading.

Pic shows: Rebecca tending to flowers in her own plot at Thrive Reading

Summing up, Thrive’s Head of Marketing & Engagement, Sally Wright says: “It is without doubt that the donations and support provided by AWE and its staff have enabled us to continue to provide our much-needed services. We strive to improve health and wellbeing, reduce isolation and loneliness and to make people’s lives more satisfying. We know that your support has contributed to this!”

Chris Daniels, AWE’s Senior ESG Manager, comments: “We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with Thrive. Our people have really taken the charity and its work to heart over the last four years and supported Thrive in a variety of ways. We’ve loved hearing about the success stories and the passion people feel in supporting local communities, as it demonstrates how donations and support really make a difference to Thrive’s client gardeners.”