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25 October 2022

To mark Ascot Racecourse Supports Volunteering Week, we learn about the impact of employees’ efforts helping Berkshire Women’s Aid.

Ascot Racecourse Supports Volunteering Week engaged 83 employees, volunteering at 12 local charities. Megan Laycock, Planning Manager at Ascot Racecourse was involved with supporting Berkshire Women’s Aid.

Focus on domestic abuse  

Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA) is a local charity passionate about making a change for individuals and families impacted by domestic abuse. They have worked to service our communities across Berkshire for over 40 years and have developed services to provide immediate safety and a space to rebuild a future without fear of abuse.

The aim is to ensure that everyone should be able to live free from the fear and experience of domestic abuse and violence in their homes and relationships. They provide a wide range of services and programmes to deal with the immediate needs of victims and their children and to intervene as early as possible to break the cycle of abuse and try to prevent it from damaging lives. Support, information, and refuge accommodation as a place of safety is provided, working with the whole family to reduce the risks and impact of domestic abuse.

Transforming a garden for service users

The link with Ascot Racecourse came via the Berkshire Community Foundation. Volunteers from the course cut back shrubbery and pulled up weeds from the front garden and cut the grass which was very overgrown in the back garden. They also removed ivy which had attached itself to a window and removed rubbish from the back garden. 

The front garden blended in with the rest of the street and no longer drew attention to itself as the weeds were gone and the shrubs looked attended to. It also provides a warm welcome to any new service users. The back garden was transformed from being unusable to a place where the women could all sit together around the patio table and engage with one another, sharing their news of the day with a cuppa and helping one another on the road to recovery. The back garden was in use before the volunteers had finished and they were personally thanked by the service users which demonstrated to me what a valuable resource the garden is. 

Such rewarding work 

We cleared 34 garden waste bags worth! The ladies came and sat with us and you could see the appreciation on their faces. Given the situation they were in, it was very important to both the charity and the ladies that their house did not stand out from the rest. When we arrived, it was very apparent which house we would be working on. It was very overgrown and neglected. By working on their garden, we gave them an inviting space to sit outside and socialise, as well as making them feel more comfortable and safe coming home from work each night and being in the house, as their house looked like any other house on that street. The ladies and the charity workers made it very apparent how impactful our work had been and will be. We also had a good old chat with them in their new and improved back garden and put the world to rights, which you could tell was very refreshing and distracting for them.

I would absolutely recommend volunteer work to other people. We will be taking part again. It is so refreshing to work for Ascot Racecourse as they encourage us to take time out of our working day to give back to the local community.

How others can get involved in the charity

Please email  BWA will then get back in touch with you to discuss any opportunities for volunteering available at the time of interest.

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