A group of business volunteers have pitched in to further enhance the gardens at Barn Court children’s home in Carrick.
The 14-strong ground force from Lloyds Banking Group lent a helping hand at the home as part of a Business in the Community initiative.
“Barn Court is a purpose-built home for children between the ages of 8 and 11 and can accommodate up to eight children at any one time,” said social worker Bobby Halliday.
“When children first come here, they can quite often be very traumatised or withdrawn; our goal is to prepare them for a return to the family unit or foster care.
“Children can quite often have very mixed emotions when they arrive; they might be feeling rejected and have a deep mistrust of adults. The first step is relationship building with each individual child, and through that to find out any issues they may have.
“The process of finding out their likes and dislikes, fears and expectations can take weeks, or months. We then take that information and use it to construct activities tailored to each child. Activities like horticulture, growing plants and vegetables, woodworking and so on form a big part of the therapeutic interventions that we do. The kids have made bird boxes and nesting boxes that would be placed in the garden here and also in local forests.
“Gardening in particular is very effective therapeutic activity for children; because they are involved in planting and growing things themselves, it teaches them ownership,” Bobby explained.
“Through this they learn respect for their property and that of other people, which in turn means they are less likely to vandalise. They are also more likely to eat any fruit or vegetables that they’ve grown, which leads into the healthy eating aspect that we try to promote.
“It also helps the child integrate in a group context and helps them to develop coping mechanisms and resilience. The skills the kids learn here are also transferable; we’ve had children who stayed here grow up and go on to become builders and things like that.
“The work the Lloyds group have done here today could have taken months to do by ourselves and it now means the kids can pick up where the volunteers have left off. I’d just like to thank everyone who gave up their time very willingly to work with us.”
Lloyds group member Caron Cranston added: “For a lot of the people who are here today, it’s their first time volunteering with Business in the Community, but they were very willing to do whatever they could to help out.”