Connor gets creative at Rural Skills

17th June 2021

Throughout lockdown, Connor used his skills and passion to help maintain our Rural Skills gardening project.

Rural Skills is part of our Hampshire day services, offering gardening, bushcraft and woodwork for people with learning disabilities and autism.

Support worker Claire said: “Creativity comes in all different forms, and Connor loves to express himself through gardening. In lockdown we delivered art packs to people, and I went round to deliver Connor’s and it was clear he wasn’t coping well with lockdown. We decided it would be best to put Connor’s skills to good use and for him to join me in maintaining Rural Skills over lockdown.

“Since then Connor has been incredible, he is amazing with the leaf blower – you wouldn’t believe how many bags of leaves we were clearing from the site. We were also planning what we were going to be doing for the year once we were allowed to reopen, such as our project with overhauling our pond. Connor has also been painting everything to freshen it up – he’s such a hard worker. It’s been really therapeutic for him.

“Before he joined Rural Skills he used to go to our day service On Track. The busier environment didn’t suit Connor, but since coming here he’s come out of his shell and he’s so happy. Now he knows what needs doing and he gets on with it, he’s really in his element.”

Connor spoke to us about how he was busy looking after Rural Skills before its reopening. He said: “I did planting, watering, planting vegetables like carrots and sowing seeds. It’s a big interest, gardening. I like being outdoors and seeing things grow.”

Connor’s mum, Pauline, said: “Rural Skills has made such a big difference for Connor. It has brought him out of his shell and allowed him to become more independent. Rural Skills has been the first day service where he will walk in without me walking with him or holding his hand – which shows how much trust he has in the people that support him.

“He has his own jobs which gives him a sense of achievement, and it’s something he really has a passion for. We have our own allotment which he maintains, he has learnt a lot from Rural Skills. Connor just shows that people with learning disabilities are capable of so much more, so don’t write them off.”

Claire said: “All our members were so keen to come back to Rural Skills and had said how much they missed it. You can see the effect coronavirus has had, some people have been quite anxious but coming here is a really safe and calm environment, which has really helped.

“Everyone can be so creative here, you can plant what you like, and make whatever you want in the woodwork shed – Andy has been building his own aircraft carrier. We have got quite a few members who love being arty and creative, such as Dan who loves painting. We give people the space to explore and create whatever they would like to – we don’t have set activities that everyone has to be involved in. Everyone has their own unique interests which they have the freedom to explore at Rural Skills.”