WYG write about their volunteering day to transform the Sunshine & Smiles garden

WYG write about their volunteering day to transform the Sunshine & Smiles garden

At WYG we recognise our corporate social responsibility and the importance of giving something back and making a difference to the local community. Thanks to the five volunteering days per year provided by the company as employee benefits, our team of Environmental consultants in Leeds were able to spend a day helping the local charity, Sunshine and Smiles by rehabilitating their garden in Chapel Allerton. Not only would this work make a long-lasting impact on the families using the charity’s garden, but would also do wonders for our team spirit, giving each consultant a rare opportunity to work together and complete the same project in a day, with tangible results. Barry Clarkson, Senior Ecologist at WYG, shares his experience of the day.

Marc Davies, Head of Environment at WYG, is Chair of Trustees of Sunshine and Smiles, a charity that provides support to children and young people with Down Syndrome and their families. Marc’s son, Alby, aged 2, has Down Syndrome, which prompted Marc’s involvement with the charity to raise awareness and support other families. There is no other organisation like this one in Leeds, making its service invaluable.

Patrick and Matt clearing the pathway

The aim of the day was to convert the rear garden of Sunshine and Smiles from a space that was too overgrown to be used by anyone into a usable space where the children could play, relax and learn. The theme of the garden space was one of ecology and environment, aiming to encourage wildlife and promote outdoor education.

The day started out with a safety briefing for the 16 volunteers and a division of the workload.  A bug hotel was created and bat, bird and ladybird boxes were erected on trees. Other projects included creating a usable path into the rear garden, painting fences, building a strawberry planter, planting a sensory garden, clearing weeds and mowing grass. A willow whip den was expertly renovated and additional vegetation was added, to make an impressive hide-away and the timber sand pit was refilled.

Newly finished garden sign

We were fortunate with the weather and the fine conditions saw the team pulling together and working at a blistering rate during the day, only stopping for the occasional hot drink and sweet treat!  The result was extremely impressive with a complete transformation of the space. Sensory plants, including lavender, mint, citrus and curry plants filled the air with smells. At the end of the day post-work tea and cake was devoured and some of the children from Sunshine and Smiles came to enjoy the garden. The team knew it had been a worthwhile day when the children were having a great time exploring this new space and getting stuck in to the sandpit!”