• Project Rascal


    It all began when Nik’s neighbour bought a Yorkie dog called Rascal. When Nik went into his garden, Rascal would duck his head under the bushes and bark at Nik. Nik found the barking really upsetting and purchased a whistle which helped a little, however eventually Nik found he could not go into his garden, as Rascal’s barking under the bushes was too distressing. Not feeling comfortable in his garden was such a problem that Nik considered a house swap, but he loves his bungalow, so he reached out to Belinda, our Peripatetic Support Manager.

    Belinda asked Adam, our Gardening Coordinator and Owen, who helps with gardening and DIY projects at out Henley allotment to have a chat with Nik to help find a solution, and Nik felt confident that fencing to prevent Rascal getting excited at seeing him would work. But how to get the fencing supplies and installation? Project Rascal was born!

    West Berks support staff were eager to help and had bits and pieces that could be used, a post here and half a bag of cement there, and all the team were willing to assist to erect the fence once we got the materials. Belinda got in touch with Wickes Head Office and the Wickes Newbury branch, who kindly gave us the fence panels for free plus a 10% discount on other bits purchased. Sadly attempts to raise the other money needed weren’t fruitful, but this summer Autism at Kingwood set up a grant scheme allocating unrestricted funds of up to £1000 a quarter to projects that have a meaningful impact on people we support. Belinda applied for a grant and Autism at Kingwood were able to meet the £300 shortfall that was needed to complete the project.

    The neighbours took down the hedging and we were ready to get the new fencing up. Belinda had asked Trevor, who we support, to assist with erecting the fence as he is a great gardening handyman and he was only too happy to help. Trevor met Nik and they got on well, a plan was forming. The team went to Wickes and ordered what was needed and set the date to put the fence up as the 20th Aug 2021. Trevor had said the less people the better, that Belinda and Rachel would be his lackeys and Nik could be on standby.

    The team all set off to Nik’s for 9am and had music, laughter, fish and chips, tea on tap and a great sense of achievement.

    Nik is really pleased with his new fence and wrote the following words:

    I just wanted to say a massive thank you to you, Trevor, Rachel, Autism at Kingwood and Wickes for my new fence!
    It’s hard to express just how grateful I am and what a difference it has already made to me.  After not feeling able to go in my back garden for the past eighteen months, because of being overlooked and the dog next door barking at me every time I set foot outside, I am now able to use my garden and have taken full advantage of the fact.  I’ve spent more time out there in the last week than I have in the past eighteen months.  I now feel motivated to carry out all the plans that I have been making and feel genuinely joyous that I have access to this space again. To be able to freely roam around my garden without anxiety or the fear of intrusion means so much.
    I’ve already sorted the grassed area, cleared all around the side, cleaned up the patio, put in a rotary washing line, painted all the fencing with creosote, cleaned off the table and chairs ready for sanding and varnishing and, as soon as my garden waste bin has been emptied, I will finish off clearing along the back wall, so that I can then start planting!
    What you all have done for me is huge and has completely changed how I’m able to live in my home.  It’s now an environment where I can feel safe and I just love being out there – something that I wouldn‘t have believed possible just a few weeks ago…
    Autism at Kingwood and you especially already do so much for me and for you to have organised and completed this for me is overwhelming (in a good way) and I am so, so grateful.
    Thank you!
    Very best wishes


    With special thanks to Wickes Newbury, Trevor, and Autism at Kingwood West Berks Team


    Abi Cowley

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