TEENAGE volunteers have spent months at a North Yorkshire care home transforming the garden and spending time with elderly residents.
Seven students from Tuned In!, a youth centre in Redcar, have spent hundreds of combined hours at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, in Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
Called the Youth Focus team, they started volunteering in May, when they began designing a project to benefit residents by renovating part of the home’s garden.
Each of the teens, aged 15-to-17-years-old, spent time chatting and playing games with residents while getting feedback on their project. Together they also attended a theatre performance of Grease and have plans to see an Elvis impersonator.
After getting to know the elderly residents better, they designed a mural to turn a blank dividing wall into scene of Saltburn, including the pier, funicular and cliffs. The mural also contains a rainbow, field of flowers, a train and a chalkboard for residents to create their own pictures.
The final artwork, which has taken more than three months to complete, with students spending between 40 and 140 hours on the project, was part of wider plans to create a sensory garden at the care home.
The Youth Focus team was joined by volunteers from Westfield Farm Tenant Resource Centre and Job Club, in Dormanstown, who donated paving and built raised flower beds.
The finished sensory garden was officially opened by compliance officer Susan Stuart, from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, which organised the project through the Our Community Matters scheme.
Susan said: “I was surprised but very honoured to be asked to open the Hazelgrove Court sensory garden. Everyone has done a brilliant job with the garden.
“In my role as compliance officer, I feel that sometimes activities in a care home are an afterthought, but at Hazelgrove they are a right at the centre of everything.
“Activities coordinator Sharon Lewis is so enthusiastic about going out into the community and utilising the voluntary sector to find different activities for residents to enjoy.”
Those at the opening ceremony included the Mayor of Redcar and Cleveland Cllr Billy Wells, the volunteering groups, residents, staff and family members.
Eden Kraus, 16, another volunteer from Tuned In!, said: “The project has been brilliant. It’s been amazing to meet the residents and get to know them.
“The project has also brought all of us from Tuned In! together and we’ve become really good friends.”
Joyce Tebbutt, a resident at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “The youngsters have done a brilliant job. We all love the new sensory garden and the mural is beautiful.”
The care home is set to host a disco and BBQ party to say thank you to the volunteers for all their hard work on 1st September.
Activities coordinator Sharon Lewis said: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to both Tuned In! and Westfield Farm for their amazing work on our sensory garden.
“Our residents now have a wonderful new area to enjoy, with raised beds full of flowers and a beautiful mural brightening up a previously bland dividing wall.
“Thanks also to the Tremaloes Parkinson’s Choir for an amazing performance for the official opening ceremony and Susan Stuart from Redcar and Cleveland Council for cutting the ribbon.
“We believe it is so important to create links with the external groups to ensure our residents still feel part of the wider community, to bring new faces to the care home and provide opportunities for residents to get out and about.
“The sensory garden project is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together, providing benefits for our elderly and the volunteers who took part.”