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What’s it like to volunteer at Willowdene Rehabilitation?

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Posted On:
5th May 2021

As a Community Liaison for Aico, I work to build relationships with local charities, schools, and organisations to develop our corporate social responsibility initiative, Aico in the Community. With the support of my colleagues, we have been able to give back to our communities wherever we can.

We recently saw the opening of Willowdene Rahabilitation’s brand-new Family Assessment Centre – a charity that we have been working closely with for several years. It was a landmark event, with the Centre enabling the cultivation and support of family relationships with students at Willowdene.

Our Managing Director, Neal Hooper, had the privilege of opening the Centre alongside Dr Matthew Home, Director of Willowdene, and the Former High Sheriff of Shropshire, Dean Harris.

We were disappointed that we couldn’t be there in person, but we would never have missed this wonderful occasion! At Aico, we took a break from our duties to watch the event live on Aico TV.

If you missed this very special episode of Aico TV, you can catch-up here.


How does the Willowdene Rehabilitation Centre help the local community?

Founded in 1988, Willowdene Rehabilitation Centre aims to provide a safe and educational environment for men and women to develop and have a brighter future.

They provide a wide range of support, including rehabilitation services, skills training and residential facilities to enable lasting transformations for their students.

How do we support Willowdene?

We have offered a range of support to Willowdene, from volunteering and sponsorship to help with marketing activities. A large portion of our ongoing relationship has included volunteering opportunities for colleagues. I was lucky enough to volunteer in February 2020 as part of the second group of colleagues to visit the Centre.

We had a tour of the grounds and saw the different classrooms they have on-site, enabling them to teach subjects like carpentry, farming, and engineering. I was amazed at the variety of their provision for students to learn practical skills, empowering them to make something for themselves or their families.

Seeing the students’ creations made it clear how proud they are of their work. It also conveyed their ambition to utilise their new skills, which can eventually be transferred to a workplace setting and contribute to a brighter future.

I also had the unique opportunity to observe a wellbeing session with several students of the Centre. The students discussed how to deal with trauma, the peaks and troughs of life, and the potential effects on mental health. They were also able to share their personal experiences and recount how they got through their own hardships. Witnessing this session showed me how much Willowdene wants its students to succeed; and how the extensive development opportunities are designed to have a significant impact on their lives. The Centre goes further than teaching its students new skills; it aims to transform their outlook on life.

During my time at Willowdene, I also visited the Women’s Recovery Centre with other team members. Together, we helped paint and redecorate the facilities – it was a great experience to share with my colleagues! Now the area is up and running, it feels rewarding to have contributed to the creation of the cabins, which will allow the occupants to access the life-changing services at Willowdene.

I feel grateful for the opportunity to attend the Centre and see first-hand the essential and valuable work they do. The volunteering days have resonated with everyone at Aico, knowing that our time means so much to them.

We are so proud to have sponsored the new Family Assessment Centre, especially as we know the facilities and support will have an even greater impact on present and future students. It is exciting to think about the fantastic things Willowdene and its students will achieve in the years to come.

We will continue to support Willowdene now and in the future, and I know the whole team here at Aico are excited to get involved in more volunteering projects at the Centre. We plan to go back as soon as we can – once lockdown restrictions are lifted of course!

If you would like to know more about how Aico supports its local communities, please contact us at community@aico.co.uk



by Lily Ellis

Lily is a Community Liaison and enjoys walking her dogs, Poppy and Rosie.




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