“I don’t have any sight so Jack describes what all the plants look like”

Volunteering in our Arts & Crafts Centre garden.

Henshaws volunteer Jack Fridlington, 77, tells us about his 10 years of volunteering at Henshaws, and why our unique Arts & Crafts Centre garden needs your support.

Jack and Sam in the Arts & Crafts garden

“I’ve been volunteering with Henshaws for about 10 and a half years. I was first introduced to Julie Barker, who is in charge of one of the Henshaws houses. It seems to have worked out really well and I enjoy working alongside the staff team here.

I volunteer every Tuesday and every other Sunday. On Tuesdays Sam and I go for a walk round the gardens at the Arts & Crafts Centre, or in the local area. I describe what’s growing to Sam and she can touch the plants, smell the flowers or listen to the bees.

I really enjoy it. There are things that Sam can’t do on her own because of her disabilities so I like to be there to help her. My priority is supporting Sam in any way I can.”

Jack and I share all the different smells and noises we like in the garden. As I don’t have any sight, Jack will help me by describing what all the plants and sculptures look like. Because the garden changes all the time, our walks are also different each time."

Sam, Art Maker

Sam in the Arts & Crafts garden

“On Sundays we go further afield, sometimes to the spa gardens in Ripon to listen to local bands, or occasionally a trip to the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr.

I enjoy talking to Sam because she takes a real interest and likes to find out about things. Astronomy isn’t a special interest of mine but because Sam wanted to learn more about it I started doing some research.

Now we both watch programmes Sam smelling flowers in the Arts & Crafts gardenlike Brian Cox’s ‘Wonder of the universe’ then talk about them together as we walk. Sam can struggle with her memory but I’m happy to go over facts like the order of the planets in our solar system with her until she has them clear in her mind. I’ve learnt a lot from helping Sam and working together.

We definitely have a connection. Sometimes one of us is thinking something and the other one will say it!

I think local people should support places like the Arts & Crafts Centre because they enable disabled people to feel safe and secure, to do something meaningful and to learn new skills. These are all things that everyone deserves to have in their life.”

Local community garden appeal

Unfortunately in recent years the garden pathways have become increasingly inaccessible and overgrown, which has restricted the access for local garden lovers like Sam and Jack.

This is why over the next few months we will be raising money to renovate the garden to ensure it is accessible, multi-sensory and a safe refuge for everyone in the Yorkshire community. To support and share our appeal, please visit our page at henshaws.org.uk/gardenappeal or you can donate by texting LCGA17 with your amount (eg. £5) to 70070. Thank you.

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We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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