A social enterprise that supports people in the Swindon area to get their lives back on track after mental health problems has been recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award.
LEAVES – Local Enterprise and Vocational Employment Schemes – provides people with opportunities for fulfilling paid work in the local area. Since being set up a decade ago, the organisation’s four trained supervisors, who have experience in mental health issues, have supported more than 30 people to find work that supports them to build their confidence, self-esteem and financial independence.
"LEAVES provides an invaluable service supporting people who have battled mental health problems to take an important step into paid work,” Cameron said. "This Big Society Award recognises the achievements and commitment of everyone at LEAVES. I hope they continue to grow and reach even more people."
LEAVES has built a strong working relationship with Swindon Borough Council over 10 years and has provided a range of services in that time such as recycling collections, bulky waste collections, woodland conservation as well as making a major contribution in the mental health arena.
Swindon Borough Council also supply LEAVES with raw materials including compost, woodchip and logs which are then bagged and sold in the local community – creating more work opportunities in conservation projects, recycling collections and a gardening service.
Chairman of LEAVES, Bob Astbury, said: “I am so proud that this award recognises the achievements of the members of LEAVES. This is not just for their resilience in fighting one of the most debilitating and yet least understood illnesses found in modern society.
"We also engage in meaningful work that in itself makes its own contribution to society - from our subsidised gardening service for the elderly and infirm through to local infrastructure improvements, assisting in increasing the volume of recyclable waste and other sustainable outcomes in Swindon. We extend an open invitation to similar organisations to come and see how we go about our work as we are confident that we can also learn from their experiences."
The award comes as LEAVES announced a new estate management contract with the Woodland Trust, which will give more work and training opportunities for its clients.