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New sensory garden in High Wycombe created using community donations

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Teresa Williams painting tyres in the new sensory garden.

Two care homes in High Wycombe have created a sensory garden for residents with learning disabilities using donations sourced from the local community.

Donations received included second hand furniture, plant pots, pebbles, stones, decorative beads and even old wellington boots re purposed as planters.

Hightown’s Grove Gardens and Ashley Drive supported living services, both of which provide housing and 24 hour support for people with learning and physical disabilities, wanted to build a reassuring space where service users can stimulate their senses, explore and express themselves.

Work on the garden at Ashley Drive began on Saturday 23rd June 2018 – marking the start of Learning Disability Week – with volunteers including families of service users, neighbours and staff.

Everyone got involved in all aspects of the garden transformation including painting old tyres donated by a local garage, filling them with compost and planting herbs, strawberries and raspberries. The garden now contains bright, reflective decorations in the patio area with brightly coloured poles leading you along a path to the plants, herbs and fruit.

After their hard work, volunteers were treated to a BBQ to say thank you for their support.

Teresa Williams, Assistant Manager at Ashley Drive said: ‘Previously our garden was just a large green space, which wasn’t very engaging for our service users and didn’t stimulate their senses.

I enjoy gardening and arts and crafts, and I thought creating a sensory garden would be a great way for us to upcycle materials, which would otherwise be thrown away.

We’re lucky to have an area for everyone to sit outside and we wanted to make the most of it. It’s been great to get all the service users, their families, neighbours and staff together to create a special space for them to enjoy. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

Sensory gardens have proved particularly beneficial for those with learning disabilities, allowing them to connect with nature, creating a sense of calm, and improving long-term mental, emotional and physical wellbeing as well as assisting in the relief and management of physical pain.

Ashley Drive in Tylers Green is a purpose built spacious house for six adults with profound learning and physical disabilities offering 24-hour support. Residents are non-verbal but communicate with body language, facial expressions and sounds, which the dedicated team understands. Ashley Drive won the award for Sustainability in the 2018 Buckinghamshire County Council Dignity in Care Awards.

Grove Gardens Studios in High Wycombe provides 24 hour supported living for seven people with learning disabilities.

Anyone wishing to donate items or volunteer should call Ashley Drive on 01494 817307 or Grove Gardens on 01494 472094.

Further information on Hightown Housing Association Limited can be found on their website at https://www.hightownha.org.uk/.

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