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Sunshine Sunflower Charity
Busy Lizzie @
I’ve always been a great believer in charity and helping the wider community, especially those who may be more vulnerable in society and I’ve recently discovered a brilliant little charity that aims to do just that.
The Sunshine Sunflower Foundation based in West Yorkshire, was created seven months ago by husband and wife team, Ian and Debbie. Their main aim is to help young people from ages 16 to 24 with difficult upbringings to grow and develop various skills through ‘horticultural therapy’ as Ian and Debbie call it. As someone with green fingers myself (well I like to think I do), this cause was right up my street.
The origins of the charity actually date back to two years ago as Ian, who is a professional gardener by trade, was asked if he could take on a young lad who was struggling to get a job with his dyslexia. Ian couldn’t praise him enough “He was a lovely person and was always ready to go. Over a few weeks, the change in him was huge, becoming a lot more relaxed in the environment and being treated like a grown up. You could see how proud they were of themselves, which was lovely to see.”
Once the charity received their first benefactor, it allowed them to pay their first students a wage, enrol them onto courses to build their skills further and also help the foundation to take on more students who needed their help.
I was keen to hear from a few of these students to see how they’re finding the experience and what they’re getting out of the activities that they’re taking part in. Plus, I thought it would be fun to get my hands dirty too!!
Ian, 17, has had ‘green fingers’ since the age of two and has been working with the charity since the day he left school. “It’s nice to have something to do during the day, all while learning skills such as the correct PPE and how to look after yourself too” he said.
When I asked him about his plans for his future, he enthusiastically expressed a passion for horticulture and it was evident during my time with him how much he enjoyed it. He’d love to pursue this avenue as a career and working with the Sunshine Sunflower Foundation sets him up for this, because not only is he building up his confidence, he’s gaining qualifications at the same time too. It’s so wonderful!
Another polite young man I spoke to is Domonic who is 19 years old. He absolutely loves doing a job he has a passion for, which stems all the way back to when he used to help his Dad in the garden.
Due to his Dyspraxia, he struggles with using computers and his people skills have also taken a knock due to his low confidence. This has impacted his prospects when applying for jobs, which is a real shame.
But, since working with the charity, everything seems to be turning around. “It has really helped me come out of my shell, especially giving me a schedule and building my confidence. It is an amazing charity!” Domonic had a beaming smile when he told me about one of his proudest accomplishments whilst working at the charity.
He had trimmed a hedge into a lovely shape and I was really impressed. “I did this by hand and using a machine, and I did it really well and I was very proud of it. You could really lose your mind to the shape of the hedge!” During my time with Domonic I asked him to show me some hedge trimming techniques too and I’m looking forward to trying them out next time I’m in the garden (what shape should I go for? A bird? Maybe I need to work up to that!).
Lastly I spoke to a wonderful young woman called Zoe. She first became aware of the charity when Debbie posted about it on Facebook and decided to get in touch. Zoe had headed to Uni, but due to the Covid pandemic, the way everything changed and various other factors, she understandably struggled to concentrate on studying. She eventually decided to come back home and working with this charity has been a great way to get back into something.
Zoe isn’t quite sure what to do next with her career, but is more than happy working outdoors and building her skills and confidence with the charity until she starts her next chapter. “We recently cut down lots of ivy, which was really hard work!” she said. “It was great to step back afterwards though and see where all the hard work had paid off”.
I just think this charity is amazing! It was evident with everyone I sat down for a cuppa with, that they’re having a brilliant time and they all shared how much the charity has helped to transform their lives.
Here at Hug at Home, we really wanted to help support this lovely local charity to ensure they keep doing their good work in our local community, so we’ve donated to help them to continue doing that. We are looking forward to continuing to work with them and supporting them in the future!
If you know of anyone who lives in good ol’ Yorkshire aged 16-24 who could benefit from working with this charity or if you would like your garden to have the students at Sunshine Sunflower come and give it some love, send an email to Debbie Lumb at firstname.lastname@example.org she’d love to hear from you.
Busy Lizzie x