Stockdales on group volunteering

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Project:
Stockdales' volunteering experience at Alderley Edge
Location:
Alderley Edge

Stockdales supports children and adults with a wide range of  learning and physical disabilities. Their Lifeskills' scheme provides educational and social opportunities for adults to develop their skills and lead full lives. As part of the scheme, Stockdales students really enjoy volunteering with the National Trust.

We spoke to Stockdales’ Jill Dobson and her students about their experiences volunteering with our team here at Alderley Edge. Here's what she had to say:

How did you find out about volunteering?

'Some of our students have worked with the National Trust before, and for some it’s a completely new experience. The students attend a conservation class with the Cheshire Countryside wardens at Alderley Edge, supported by staff from Stockdales. We’re learning lots of new skills and enjoy getting exercise and fresh air at the same time.'

What benefits has working here brought your group?
'The group have really learnt to work as a team. One man was afraid of low branches on trees, and this work helped him to overcome his fear. As well as learning the 'hard' skills like using tools and cutting trees down, winching and so on, the group are learning and developing their skills around communication, helping each other, working as a team and working independently. The work has helped everybody build their confidence.'

What's the most interesting part of volunteering?

The students say: 'We all love it and are enjoying every bit of it. We’re doing lots of different things. Some weeks we’ve winched trees out and we’re clearing scrub from heathland. The wardens are very friendly and helpful. We used to just come for a morning but now we go for the day, which is much better.'

What skills do you need to be a volunteer?

You just need to be keen and enthusiastic. The wardens from the National Trust and staff from Stockdales give us so much help and we are learning lots all the time. We have been given good waterproofs and boots so we don't need to worry if it's raining! It's just good to be outside in the fresh air.

What's the biggest challenge you've been given whilst working here?

'Everything's new so it’s all a challenge.'
'I had never used a winch before.'
'It's good coming to the same bit so I can see changes each week and progress that we’ve made. It's winter now but it will be really, really good in spring.'

What task have you found the most rewarding?

'Everything - cutting trees, working as a team, helping each other, learning how to do new things and use the tools.'