Rebecca, 24, is changing lives by promoting a beneficial and accessible connection to nature for neurodivergent people. Thriving in her role as Garden and Horticulture Assistant at Green Synergy, Rebecca has undergone a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. She now seeks to encourage more people with disabilities to access the green sector.
Photo of Rebecca Graham

After leaving school, Rebecca took part in a series of conservation placements, including Kickstart, where she facilitated a programme of outdoor education aimed at children with learning difficulties. Being neurodivergent, Rebecca could relate to the outdoors being better adapted for learning and wellbeing. This experience allowed Rebecca to visualise the life-changing impact she could make working in the green sector.

When Rebecca applied to New to Nature, it was the empathy of employees at Green Synergy that stood out; the compassion for the daily volunteers in the garden was also extended towards applicants. Even in the initial interview for the role, Rebecca’s needs were met with kindness and patience. She was able to see the questions that would be asked before the interview took place, and this reasonable adjustment for planning gave her reassurance.

During her placement, Rebecca has regular conversations with team members about different methods of workplace support, from coping strategies to manage overwhelm, to recommending a quiet space outside for mindfulness. This support has helped Rebecca grow as a person – she has found vulnerability and self-expression in her team’s understanding, whilst acquiring new skills and qualities of communication, teamwork, confidence, and resilience.

After further training in horticulture, Rebecca intends to apply her learning to ensure unlimited access to nature and support for people with similar workplace needs to herself. She has hopes of using her voice to advocate for neurodivergent people, inspiring them to gain green sector employment, and continue making a difference to others.

Rebecca’s placement has highlighted the importance of more representative voices in the green sector. The supportive working environment at her New to Nature placement has made Rebecca feel accepted, included, and valued for who she is.

Rebecca said:

“To be supported is the best – it is what it should be, and no one should have to go through discrimination or bullying because of who they are.

“I understand what it feels like to be different and to feel like I can’t communicate well. But there’s always a way to communicate with people. You just have to think of a different way of going about it. Not everyone is going to think the same as you or be the same as you. So, it’s all about adapting things for people.

“I personally have learnt a lot about myself and I feel like I’m becoming a better person because of being in this job.

Not everyone has the opportunity to be outside and be in nature because of where they live or because of their circumstances and I feel like everyone should be able to have access to green spaces.

New to Nature is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the King’s Coronation, delivered through a partnership of Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust, Disability Rights UK, Mission Diverse and the Youth Environmental Service.

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