Wokingham is winning with WIN

Local charity Wokingham in Need (WIN) has once again been working hard to bring together local businesses, residents and charities for another exciting new project in Wokingham.

Founded just over four years ago, WIN was created to help the vulnerable and to benefit as many people as possible, including the homeless; those with learning disabilities, brain damage and mental health issues; the elderly; the terminally ill; and those affected by drug and alcohol misuse.

WIN has already made a huge impact via its projects and support schemes across Wokingham. Sourcing funds and contractors to install facilities at the Salvation Army on Sturges Road, providing the Wokingham Drop-In Centre enhanced services for the homeless and vulnerable and helping Optalis with their ball for the residents of West Mead Day Centre are just a few of WIN’s noteworthy activities.

Wokingham in Need Sensory Garden

WIN is now delighted to announce a new project: a sensory garden at the Acorn Centre in Woosehill, Wokingham. The garden is for use by Adults with Learning Disabilities and other groups who use the centre. Following on from discussions with Growing Places – who supply part of the daycare service at the Acorn Centre in Woosehill – and Wokingham Borough Council (WBC), it was agreed that WIN would take on the challenge of refurbishing a tired and badly overgrown area of land at the Acorn Centre and make it into a working sensory garden.

Sensory gardens are designed with surfaces, objects and plants that stimulate senses through touch, sight, smell, taste and hearing. These stimuli are widely documented as being beneficial in helping those with learning difficulties as they create a safe place for people to explore their senses in a fun environment.

The garden area WIN is transforming originally opened in 2015 and was a favourite of attendees of the Acorn Centre. But after a long period of neglect, this area desperately needs work to realise Growing Place’s and WIN’s dream of what this garden could be.

The project is not going to be an easy task. Sue Jackson, founder of WIN, and Rosemary O’Donnell, Wokingham In Need’s Secretary, progressed discussions with WBC and Growing Places and obtained permission to work on the land, with WBC’s agreement that WIN can undertake the completion and funding of this exciting task.

Wokingham in Need Sensory Garden

Sue Jackson-Founder WIN       Rosemary O’Donnell – Secretary WIN

The first stage of the development was creating an architect’s plan, which was drawn up by Peter Izod, Vice Chairman of WIN. This plan was then discussed with various companies, with a view of sourcing funding.

Quotes were obtained and – due to the amount of time the area had not been tended to as well as WIN’s dedication to ensuring the garden would be fit for purpose, exciting to use, beautiful to look at and easy to maintain – the costs were high. It was clear that WIN would need further help with funding to see this project through to its full potential.

WIN successfully applied for grants but was sadly still short of funding and therefore a decision had to be made: could they start the project?

The trustees of WIN met and agreed to begin the project regardless of the funding problems feeling sure the community would help, in addition to WIN organising fundraising events.

Rosemary contacted a group of volunteers known as ‘The Friends of Finchampstead Ridges’ who regularly work on National Trust areas to maintain and enhance them for the public. They set to work to remove the 10ft high brambles and the undergrowth from paths and beds to enable the redesign.

Garden Logistics then kindly removed all the debris from the site. Given that the area looked totally different at the initial planning stages, Peter Izod revisited the plans to ensure they were still viable.

Wokingham in Need Sensory Garden

Brian and the Friends of Finchampstead Ridges Team

The first stage of the project is now complete, so it is time to begin the hard landscaping. This includes the installation of fencing, new patio and artificial grass to provide the backdrop for the planting and sensory items.

However, although initial work has started the project isn’t fully funded yet and WIN urgently needs the support of the local community to enable them to complete their wonderful plans.

To support this project and make a donation visit @WokinghamInNeed on Facebook where you will find a just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/winsensory or if you’re in town, pop into Prospect Estate Agency on Broad Street and leave your donation there. Prospect Estate Agents are also able to take credit card payments for WIN.

Wokingham in Need Sensory Garden
Wokingham in Need and friends at work

Local Estate Agents – Prospect (Wokingham in Need’s primary sponsor) fully supports WIN and the excellent work they do in Wokingham and have previously provided funds for projects in the area.

Liz from Growing Places commented:

“The support we have received from Sue Jackson and the team at WIN has been amazing. Often there’s no funds for smaller community projects which leaves us in a difficult situation when looking at updating or creating new facilities for the community. To say we’re delighted to receive the gift of a Sensory Garden from WIN is an understatement!

The people we support are ecstatic that they’ll soon be able to enjoy the new sensory garden with even more features than before. We’d all like to say a huge thank you to Sue Jackson and Rosemary O’Donnell who initiated the refurb, Prospect Estate Agency for some of the funds, Wokingham Borough Council for their support and the band of volunteers for their hard work actually turning our dreams into reality.”

Comment from Mark Redfearn from Wokingham Borough Council:

“We are pleased to welcome Wokingham In Need who have brought together a team of local volunteers and companies to revitalise the sensory garden at the Acorn Centre. The project brings an important facility back into usage, and we are sure the finished garden will be very much appreciated by the users of the centre for years to come”

Comment Friends of Finchampstead Ridges

For many years the team at Growing Places have worked with us in the National Trust woodlands at The Ridges and Simon’s Wood, creating a better environment for all to enjoy. When Growing Places needed help to improve their own garden space, we were delighted (determined) to be asked. 

To say that the Growing Places people are fun and great to be with is an understatement, they bring joy to us all with their enthusiasm, commitment, humour and effort. They have earned their National Trust Volunteer 5 year badges and wear them with pride.

They love to give their news and stories to us then get to work quickly with cutters and saws under the direction of Kelly and Peter, their Senior Support Workers, and some of the regular volunteers. This was our opportunity to say thank you.

The work WIN is doing across the Wokingham Borough is really making a difference to many people’s lives and it’s only possible because the local community is grouping together. If you’d like to do more than just donate then please email wokinghaminneed@gmail.com for more information or visit our website:  www.wokinghaminneed.com.

So please help Wokingham In Need: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/winsensory

As always, WIN is already looking ahead to their next project so watch our website and Facebook page.

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