Wirral heroes raise money for Autism Together
Monday, November 16th, 2015
Wirral heroes raise money for Autism Together after spate of thefts at charity garden centre
STAFF at Wirral charity Autism Together say their faith in humanity has been restored after community members rallied round to raise funds to replace equipment and money stolen in two burglaries at its Bromborough Pool garden centre.
Thieves have twice targeted Bromborough Pool Garden Centre – run by Autism Together, the former Wirral Autistic Society – leaving thousands of pounds of damage and traumatising the vulnerable people who work there.
Garden equipment was destroyed, office furniture trashed and a safe was ripped off the wall in the shocking overnight raids which have left many of those who work at the staff feeling anxious.
When Mark Murphy, store manager for Sainsbury’s in Greasby, read about the raids in the Globe he was determined to do his bit to help.
Mark has a six year-old son with autism and is a regular visitor to Autism Together’s Rainbow Resource Centre for families in Birkenhead.
He emailed local Sainsbury’s stores and asked his colleagues to make donations from their community charity budgets.
Fourteen stores agreed to donate B&Q gift cards so that the garden centre team could replace valuable gardening equipment.
Mark said: “We raised £1,000. I’ve spent the last few days meeting colleagues in car parks all over the region to collect the gift vouchers. We even had a donation from a Warrington store. The handover meeting at the garden centre was quite emotional. When you are close to a charity, as my family is to this one, you feel empowered to do more to help it.”
Lorna Mills, from Raby Mere, read about the thefts on Facebook.
She said: “I had met some of the team at the garden centre. I thought they were lovely people and there’s a great atmosphere there. The thefts made me really sad and I wanted to help out in some way.”
Lorna set up a Just Giving page online which has raised over £400.
She added: “It hasn’t been so much about the money. I see this as a way to show the support of the local community – to show we really do care.”
Garden centre manager Lex Freeman said that the kindness of community had given his team a real boost.
“Having to cope with the aftermath of two thefts in two weeks shocked us. We wondered when it would ever end. We can’t thank Mark and Lorna – and all the Sainsbury’s stores across the region that got involved – enough. They are true local heroes and they’ve reminded us that we live and work in a fantastic community.”
Established in 1992, Bromborough Pool Garden Centre – formerly Raby Hall Garden Centre – provides opportunities for adults with autism as part of Autism Together.
Seventeen people with autism are currently involved in running the garden centre, gift shop, café and spin-off landscaping business.