Ernst & Young volunteer at Aspen Community Wellbeing Service

23 August 2018

A blog post by Volunteer Coordinator, Ian Cardwell.

Ernst & Young volunteer at Aspen Community Wellbeing Service

As part of Ernst & Young’s policy of Corporate Social Responsibility, their staff commit to volunteering for a day with a local charity. In my role as Volunteer Coordinator, I was delighted when Philip Shepherd of Ernst & Young Belfast contacted me, explaining that his team was keen to help out with a mental health charity.

As Philip said ‘After sitting down with my own team and discussing how we should use our CSR day we all thought that it was a good idea to try and help somewhere within the mental health field…In terms of why we chose Inspire Wellbeing …I discovered you guys from doing my own research and we thought your facility and the services you offer are of great value, we also felt that if we used our day to help you guys it would have a great impact locally.’

So I made enquiries with Inspire’s Mental Health and Learning Disability Services in Belfast to see if there were any suitable volunteering opportunities for a small group. Almost immediately, Aspen Community Wellbeing Services replied to me offering a day of gardening.  Philip and the Ernst & Young team accepted the challenge. In July, Philip, Lorraine (the manager of Aspen), and myself met at Aspen to look at the garden and agree a range of tasks for the E & Y volunteers. In advance of the day, Lidl NI kindly donated a wide variety of seeds, herbs and vegetable sets – that Aspen and our services will be able to use over the coming months.

Ernst & Young’s Volunteer Day – 20th Aug 2018

On 20th August, with the long hot summer behind us, Philip and his team of 6 colleagues turned up at Aspen on a grey, drizzly morning. We feared it would be too damp to do many of the tasks like painting the fences, and mowing the lawn. Thankfully the weather picked up and we were out in garden as planned. Myself and one of our new gardening volunteers Tania, led the group through a variety of tasks – clearing raised beds, weeding, cutting back clematis, painting a shed and fences, planting strawberries and onions, pruning rose bushes and mowing the lawn. The drizzle came and went but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. As always, the hardest part of the day was venturing back outside after sitting down to lunch – thanks to Lorraine for a lovely lunch, and refreshments throughout the day!

Reflecting on the day, Philip said, ‘the guys really enjoyed the day and were thankful for your help and support throughout, I’ve asked if there would be any recommendations or changes  to the programme, from any of my team and I’m happy to say that there were not, we all felt the day was a resounding success.’

The Aspen Team, Lorraine and myself are extremely grateful to all our E&Y volunteers and to Tania who made such a big contribution. Tania will be back at Aspen from September as a regular volunteer working with members in the garden and already has a few ideas – making boxes for winter salad and herbs, preparing raised beds for winter, planning crops and plants for next year, and making feed for birds.

If you are interested in volunteering with Inspire you can get in touch here

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