Getting Ambitious About Autism with Project Dirt

Written by Rachael B. - November 2, 2017

This autumn, we discussed as a team the need for another day away from the office, following our fantastic day of walking in Winchester earlier this year. Time away from our desks, getting to know each other better and bond with new team members was a high priority. This time, also high up on our list of priorities was doing something that would make a real difference.

While we are all about having a positive impact on the wider world, we are also keen to act locally, making a difference to local communities that need support. So, we asked our fabulous client Project Dirt to suggest some community projects that we could get involved in.

Project Dirt really understood the kind of organisations we’d like to get involved with and sent us a great list. The team went for a gardening project with Ambitious About Autism, the national charity for children and young people with autism.

Who are Ambitious about Autism?

Ambitious about autism was born, as so many charities are, by a few parents who were frustrated by the lack of opportunities available for children and young people on the autism spectrum. Originally Treehouse (the school we volunteered at), in 1997 it began in a borrowed room and was a specialist school with just four pupils. Today, Treehouse caters for 90 children!

The charity has now grown and works towards its mission of ‘making the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism’ through a range of services, as well as raising awareness and understanding of autism. It provides specialist education through Treehouse School and Ambitious College.  

How will the gardening project help?

Part of the curriculum at Treehouse school includes horticulture as one of the pathways to later employment. Children learn practical skills in a real work environment, and the work we helped with was the creation of an area for the ‘Saplings’ project, by beginning to clear the land ready for the children to begin working on as part of their education.

Julia briefs us at the start of the day.

Before we began our day, we had a fantastic briefing from Julia Lampard, who shared a little of the history of the school and showed us a video of Conor, one of the pupils at Ambitious College, so we could really see the difference our work could potentially make in the long term.

What did we do?

What didn’t we do! We removed bindweed from the fenced area, cleared an area and added bark to create a safe path for the children to use, cleared and added soil to raised beds for planting and more! Here’s some pictures of us in action:

With James and Eugenio from Project Dirt, ready for a day’s work ahead!
Mohib and Vineeta clearing the fences.
David refilling the wheelbarrow.
The raised beds before we got to work on them.
Clearing a safe path behind the shed.
Josh working on the raised beds. Nearly there!
Tom and Wazid taking a short break.

Of course we had a well earned break for lunch! We went to a lovely local cafe – Queen’s Wood Cafe, which was tucked away in the woods and we highly recommend visiting! Excellent hospitality.

Get involved

We had a fantastic day on so many levels, with team members saying:

“Very rewarding and I’ll definitely be joining in again be it within the company or in my own time.”

“I loved the teamwork with my colleagues. It was a great bonding experience and I have even more respect for them now.”

“The highlight was seeing what we had achieved as a team for the day.”

“It was great getting positive feedback from our host about the difference we’ve made.”

“More needs to be done to integrate people with neurodiversities and I’m so glad to see that Ambitious about Autism is leading the way!”

And Julia says:

“You were such a lovely group  to work with. It would be great to see you again if you have the time to come back. You guys made a really tangible difference… Thanks!”

We have all agreed as a team that we will definitely be returning in the spring to help out again so watch this space for an update.

If you’d like to support Ambitious about Autism, or get involved with any other community project, we highly recommend doing so. Project Dirt organised the day so well for us and there are so many ways you can get involved over on their website, as a company or as an individual, that the only problem you are likely to have is choosing where you want to lend a hand!