My name is Stephen Neill and I work for Aico as a Regional Specification Manager (RSM) based in Scotland. My role and responsibilities on the west coast of Scotland, the Inner and Outer Hebridean Island, Orkney and Shetland, is to support social housing and local authorities on legislation for home fire safety, design and provide specification accordingly. In addition to offer training to contractors and customers coupled with supporting our distribution customers.
All colleagues at Aico are empowered to carry out four volunteering days each year for a variety of charities that we support across the United Kingdom.
In September, I was excited to go along to Willowdene Rehabilitation with some of my colleagues to spend the day volunteering. Not knowing what the day would entail, the anticipation and buzz from my colleagues was infectious.
Since 2013, Willowdene has had a strong focus on developing woman’s services. The creation of the UK’s first (and currently, only) residential female alternative to custody, established a solid foundation that has underpinned the ongoing development and innovative interventions across both residential and community-based woman’s services.
When we arrived, we had the pleasure of meeting Matt, the founder of Willowdene and his colleague Dave, and enjoyed a cup of tea while hearing about what was currently going on at Willowdene Rehabilitation and their farms. I didn’t know they had two to manage (and the residents area), along with a variety of farm animals and cattle. Together, we asked what we could do today that would support them and the residents.
The plan was to visit the residential area where the students are living and being supported with their needs and treatments. The individual houses and residential areas offer a peaceful setting surrounded by woodland and nature, and have been built by hand by the team at Willowdene and has paths leading from house to house.
During our volunteering day, we assisted with repairing these concrete pathways as they had been disturbed by the installation of new underground pipe work and needed to be dug out and replaced. In addition, a soil area between properties needed to be turned and seeded – so a busy day ahead.
Although the day was not my usual day as an RSM, it was so good to focus on helping people, doing some manual labour, and feeling that we did something to help the residents. The emotions I get from doing something like this is amazing, seeing what difference we made as a team. Knowing that the team at Willowdene can focus on the residents’ needs and treatments, while we make the area better for them is rewarding.
The broken concrete path was removed and replaced with new concrete and the area to be turned was completed and seeded by us all.
The work that goes on to support students through their journey at Willowdene is inspiring and when you speak with the team, they do it because they are passionate and want to make a difference. You certainly do and thank you for having us for the day.