Green-fingered Altrincham teenagers transform Counselling & Family Centre gardens

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Teenagers have raised more than £300 and spent four days clearing, weeding, painting and planting to revitalise gardens surrounding The Counselling & Family Centre in Altrincham.

The 13-strong team said they wanted to “make a difference to a charity that itself makes a difference to so many local people” and chose to support the centre in Mayors Road as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS).

NCS is a voluntary four-week programme for 15 to 17 year olds in England and Northern Ireland, funded largely by government money. Young people experience a week at an outdoor activity centre and a week living as students before spend a fortnight planning, fund-raising and delivering a community action project.

A number of the helpers who have contributed to the transformation at the family centre

Monty Harrison-Stirling, a 16-year-old from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, said: “The centre’s been at the heart of the Altrincham community for 40 years and last year helped almost 900 people struggling with emotional and mental health issues.

“The Centre’s work resonated with our team as many young people are affected by issues such as self esteem, bullying, family breakups and depression for which the centre provides counselling and support. We wanted to lift the spirits of those visiting and working at the centre by revitalising the surrounding gardens, painting in the centre, and also donating money towards their work.” Monty added.

The teenagers from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Wellington High School, Altrincham College of Arts and Ashton-on-Mersey High School raised funds for the charity through creating a social media presence to highlight their efforts, securing online donations, pitching in a ‘Dragons Den’ event at the BBC at MediaCity (gaining the maximum additional funding), plus completing a full marathon in fancy dress in Stamford Park to boost their total.

The NCS team with Jo Allen from the Counselling & Family Centre

Libby Silverwood, from Wellington School, added: “In more than 30 hours we’ve cut back six foot high brambles and cleared overgrown bushes at the rear of the building, weeded and filled tubs with flowers and bulbs, painted the meeting room and toilets inside the centre, plus tidied and refreshed the area near the Café in the Park which is run by volunteers and raises money for the Centre.”

Jo Allen, who is in charge of the family centre, praised the efforts of the young people and credited the amount of enthusiasm and determination they added to make the transformation a success.

“We’re absolutely delighted the young people chose our charity. Their enthusiasm and determination to make a difference and brighten the gardens surrounding the centre, and our inside rooms, has been inspirational. The transformation has given us all a smile and people have already commented on how the gardens have been brightened.”

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