Community-conscious teenagers raised more than £300 and spent four days clearing, weeding, painting and planting to revitalise the gardens surrounding The Counselling & Family Centre in Altrincham.
The 13-strong team said they wanted to ‘make a difference to a charity that makes a difference to so many local people’ and chose to support the Centre in Mayor’s Road as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS)
NCS team member, Hale’s 16-year-old Monty Harrison-Stirling from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, said: “The Centre’s been at the heart of the Altrincham community for 40 years and last year helped almost 900 people struggling with emotional and mental health issues. The Centre’s work resonated with our team as many young people are affected by issues such as self-esteem, bullying, family breakups, depression, bereavement etc., for which the Centre provides counselling and support. We wanted to lift the spirits of those visiting and working at the Centre by revitalising the surrounding gardens, painting in the Centre, and by also donating money towards their work.”
The teenagers from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Wellington School, Altrincham College of Arts and Ashton-on-Mersey High School, raised funds for the charity through creating a social media presence to highlight their efforts, securing online donations, pitching in a Dragons’ Den inspired event at the BBC at Media City (gaining the maximum additional funding), plus completing a full marathon in fancy dress at Stamford Park to boost their total. Having also approached local businesses for support in supplying or discounting garden tools, paints and plants for use, the young people spent four days painting several rooms at the Centre and working to transform the gardens.
Libby Silverwood from Wellington High School said: “In more than 30 hours, we’ve cut back six-foot high brambles and cleared overgrown bushes at the rear of the building. We’ve weeded and filled tubs with flowers and bulbs, painted the meeting room and toilets inside the Centre as well as tidied and refreshed the area near the Café in the Park. The Café is run by volunteers and further raises money for the Centre. We’re really pleased with our efforts… and rather muddy, paint-splattered and tired!”
Jo Allen, Manager of The Counselling & Family Centre said: “We’re absolutely delighted the young people chose our charity. Their enthusiasm and determination to make a difference and brighten the gardens surrounding the Centre, as well as our inside rooms, has been inspirational. The transformation has given us all a smile and people have already commented on how the gardens have been brightened.”
NCS is UK Government voluntary four-week programme for 15-17 year olds in England and Northern Ireland which is largely funded by the government. Young people experience a week at an outdoor activity centre and spend a week living as students before a further fortnight spent planning, fund-raising and delivering a community action project.
Monty added: “NCS has been a fantastic experience. From raft-building and abseiling, to living on a budget at Manchester University, to raising funds, pitching at the BBC and putting our plan into practice, it’s been non-stop and I’ve made great friends. The project’s been incredibly rewarding. Even though we’re not painters or gardeners professionally, we hope the freshly revamped rooms and gardens will be a lasting legacy and lift the spirits of visitors and staff for years to come. We’ve been inspired to volunteer and support the Centre in the future as a way to say thanks to the unsung heroes, the Centre’s staff, who have made a difference to so many lives.