ATI Participant Stories – Meet Ian

ATI Participant Stories – Meet Ian

Laura works as the Participant Experience Coordinator on our Action Towards Inclusion Programme. She often reads and hears stories from the participants who access the support and has decided to share some of those in a blog series called ‘ATI Participant Stories’.

Today she shares Ian’s story.. 

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending Orb and meeting Ian, one of the lovely participants Barbara has been supporting since November on the Action Towards Inclusion project.

Although new to the project, Ian has been attending Orb’s weekly gardening sessions for several weeks in the hopes of improving wellbeing (based on the 5 ways to wellbeing) and building relationships with other Orb service users.

The sessions are led by Jon, Orb’s expert gardener. In recent weeks, the group has worked on several projects together, including making garden borders, mosaics, a Christmas wreath, and learning about micro-greens (tiny vegetables, for those who don’t know). The neighbouring bowling green is their next project, working with the community to create wild-flower borders.

In his early sixties, Ian has only recently been diagnosed with ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition), and Orb has provided a safe, supportive space to better understand the condition. In Ian’s words, Orb ‘’take it all on board’’.

Physically, Ian says the gardening sessions seem to be helping, and have given him a ‘’new lease of life’’. Mentally, there are still challenges, but overall, the sessions have helped Ian to follow his GP’s advice- finding new ways to relax, keeping busy, and working towards improving his mental health. We chatted about how the sessions have enabled Ian to make things and be practical, constructing borders and applying artistic skill. He spoke about enjoying feeling ‘useful’ cultivating and creating in the garden; a little green pocket to develop skills and engage with the community.

The gardening has been part of a wellbeing intervention which Orb offer, alongside other project activities on ATI which are sometimes more employment progression based. This holistic approach to supporting people is something Orb do brilliantly, and this is reflected in the paperwork which accompanies the key-working, and intervention sessions. Participants are asked to complete The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) at the start and end of the interventions, and this maps any changes which have taken place in their wellbeing.

Looking at Ian’s scores pre and post intervention, there have been improvements, particularly with the questions regarding physical wellbeing.

Although Ian’s intervention with the gardening group has now come to end, he intends to keep going. Gardening is just one of the fantastic groups Orb run to support people within the community like Ian, to find out more about what they do and who they are, visit Orb’s website here:

Thank you Laura for sharing Ian’s story and progress on the Action Towards Inclusion programme. Check back for more ‘ATI Participant Stories’ over the next few weeks!


Laura Sandiford

Post by Laura Sandiford

Impact Coordinator

A keen storyteller, collaborator and engagement enthusiast, Laura works alongside Hannah as the Impact Coordinator, where she measures and highlights the impact of Better Connect across its business, programmes, and partnerships. She does so by working closely with colleagues, partners, participants, and stakeholders to gather information and stories, which she then translates into a range of engaging content across Better Connect’s channels.

Building relationships and networks is a large part of Laura’s role, alongside ensuring the ‘’Better Connect story’’ is woven throughout all communications.

Laura’s favourite part of the role is connecting with the faces behind the case studies and giving voice to their experiences.

Learn more about Laura