Giving something back: Restoring the children’s sensory garden

On 3rd September 2021, a team of volunteers from Eton Bridge Partners spent the day at Maidenhead’s Riverside Children’s Centre to help restore and revamp their sensory garden. This space used to be a tranquil escape for the children who visited the centre, but unfortunately, it became another casualty of lockdown and after 9 months of neglect, it was barely usable.

The mountain of weeds disguised the space and the different aspects of the garden. Herbs, colourful flowers, space for imagination – mud kitchens and sand pits, all hidden or lost. The garden was regularly used as a space for learning and sensory development. The Riverside Centre now supports young children into their teenage years who use the garden for time out and headspace to discuss any problems they are having. With all this in mind, we knew this was going to be challenge, but important to get it right.  We couldn’t wait to get started.

“Thoroughly enjoy the day! Helping to make a small difference and bonding as a team in the process was a great experience. I was truly amazed by the turn around; when I initially saw the overgrown weeds etc I thought it was going to be a long day… in fact, time flew by and it turned out to be fun day of giving back and helping out.”

Kyle Mclaren-Kennedy, Head of Research – CFO & Finance

Our initial aim was to clear as many of the weeds as we could, to help make the garden accessible at least! After a few hours of hard work (and nearly a whole skip full), we managed to clear all the weeds away to reveal all the unique areas of the garden. But we still had a lot of work to do. So, we grabbed our paint brushes and secateurs and got to work, adding colour to the woodwork, and trimming back the overgrown plants. The fence and shed got a fresh coat of paint, the herb garden was refreshed with new plants and the dead stems cut away, we introduced a bug house and reinstated the mud kitchen and music space. One feature we were keen to create was a space for the older children to use and have those important conversations – the decking area tucked away in the back corner was perfect for this and using newly decorated benches and an artificial ivy wall created the much-needed private space… Creating this identity for the decking, we wanted to ensure the garden could be used by everyone.

“The garden looks amazing and lots of users have commented on the space. The garden is now able to be used and provide positive outcomes for our children, young people and families.”

Daniel Saunders, Youth Centre Coordinator

The creativity of the team helped transform the garden. Once a sea of weeds and tired garden furniture, now a bright and exciting place. The children can now enjoy colourful toadstools, watch, and nurture the herb garden, enjoy the flowers throughout the seasons, see what guests are staying at the bug house, whilst having space to sit, read stories and chat.

This project came about as part of our Giving Something Back initiative – in response to internal appetite for giving more practical support to the local community. Whilst Eton Bridge Partners regularly make financial donations, we wanted to also contribute our time and energy, and achieve something tangible through teamwork. After months in lockdown, and only meeting colleagues via teams calls and virtual events, this was the perfect opportunity to get together, whilst making a difference to local community. The time spent together was not only valuable to the Riverside Centre but also for us. Being able to bring people together, meet families and work together to achieve the transformation was very humbling. We hope to continue our relationship with The Children Centre’s in Windsor and Maidenhead and keep supporting the incredible work they do.

“Absolutely brilliant day! Not only spending some quality time away from the desk with colleagues but also involving and making memories with my 4 year which we will cherish for a long time. Showing her kindness and the importance of selflessness.”

Laura Bradley, Executive Assistant – Transformation, Digital & Technology Leadership