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Vote To Grow Toby’s Garden

Since we moved to Toby House, we’ve been dreaming of creating a wonderful garden with sensory planting and play equipment where autistic children in the North East can play and learn safely.

Our landlord, Earth Balance, has given us the land behind Toby House in Bedlington, Northumberland. Right now it’s an unloved, disused area of rough ground. We’d love to take children outside to explore and play there, but it’s just not safe for children with autism. It needs lots of work – and money! – to turn it into a special place where they can play and learn.

Tesco is helping our dream of a garden to come true. You can help too by voting for us at Tesco stores in Whitley Bay and North Shields between 31 October and 13 November 2016. (Details of which stores are below.)

Rough ground behind Toby House

The rough ground at the back of Toby House where we’d like to create Toby’s Garden

Our project: Toby’s Garden

Every time you bought a 5p carrier bag at Tesco recently, or had your home delivery arrive in bags, you were helping The Toby Henderson Trust. That’s because Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork on its Bags of Help initiative in hundreds of regions across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. We’ve been selected  for this round of funding, and we need your help to bag the top prize.

Tesco Bags of Help Logo


Why a garden?

When we conducted a survey of our users and the autism community, over 94% said that an outdoor space would be very beneficial. Children with autism fall into two categories where the big outdoors is concerned. There are those who will not gladly go outside or leave the familiarity of their home environment. And then there are others who who are constantly on the go, seeking sensory input and craving physical activity. Both groups are often limited in their opportunities to enjoy doing ‘mainstream’ outdoor activities.

Up to 500 people (our service users and their families) will benefit from this project. But it wouldn’t just be the children from Toby House who would play and learn in Toby’s Garden – we’d like to open it up to other groups who would benefit from using it too.

TSB and Multi Packaging Solutions are already on board, having very generously offered to dig in by donating manpower to create and maintain the garden. It will also create other opportunities for volunteering that will strengthen our links with the wider community.

Our dream for Toby’s Garden

The plan for Toby's Garden

The plan for Toby’s Garden

Groundwork have worked with us to come up with some great ideas! The first job is to fence the area off so that we can keep children safe. Then we’ll clear the ground and create a safe surface to play on.

The area will be divided into three sections using ornamental grasses, bamboo and trellis to allow different experiences and activities to take place. Sensory planting, creative seating and decking platforms will provide stimulation and opportunities for play and learning.

If we get the big prize of £12,000, we’ll be able to add a water play unit and a wooden play train to encourage interactive, social and imaginative play and improve motor skills.

How you can help our garden grow

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 416 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will now vote in store from 31 October to 13 November on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards. In total, there is over £12.5 million up for grabs. We’ve already secured a guaranteed £8,000 which is enough to plant the seeds of our garden. You can help us grow our garden into something extra special and fun by voting for us to win more funding. Pop along to one of these Tesco stores to vote for us between 31 October and 13 November:

Toby's Garden