“It is lovely to see her so happy and confident, joking with the volunteers and other service users.”
Louise has been visiting the Greenfingers site in Basingstoke for approx. 5 years. She loves being outdoors as much as possible and would be outside all the time if she could.
Charity Manager Tatu has seen a significant increase in her confidence since she joined Greenfingers. “It is lovely to see her so happy and confident, joking with the volunteers and other service users.”
Louise has learned new skills in horticulture which have enabled her to help her family in the garden back home, such as weeding and planting seeds. She enjoys potting on and watching the plants grow bigger, and identifying/learning the correct names for plants. When the charity lost a poly tunnel in Storm Eunice, she helped to measure the dimensions for replacement polythene and by using ear defenders to protect from loud noise she has also been able to use a lawnmower, therefore gaining exposure to other practical elements of garden maintenance.
Volunteer Nick introduced her to cultivating chillies last year: “They were very small; this year I am growing footlong chillies.” She also enjoys growing kale to add to stews. Louise requires assistance with cooking as she finds coordinating the timings challenging however she has some very sensible culinary advice: “You can eat the chillies on their own as long as you take the seeds out but don’t rub your eyes after touching chilli seeds!”
When Louise’s parents were selecting a centre for her, a number of factors had to be taken into consideration – because autism doesn’t look the same for everyone it was important to find an organisation that really understands this and doesn’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach. They liked the atmosphere at Greenfingers and the fact that she was made to feel very welcome straight away. They also felt that the Greenfingers staff and volunteers invest time to understand individual needs very well.
As Louise is also diabetic they also need confidence that she will be well supported in managing this aspect of her health. They feel she is safe and well looked after, and are confident that she is not afraid to ask the other volunteers or service users for assistance. They also think that the service offering is very good value for money.