A group of adults with learning disabilities are growing in confidence thanks to a green fingered partnership between two North East charities.

Daybreak, a charity designed to offer meaningful, day time activities for adults with additional needs, has joined forces with Auckland Castle Trust to offer its members new opportunities.

Every week at least six participants from Daybreak’s Coundon hub work alongside the Trust’s staff and volunteers to help maintain more than 200 acres of grounds and parklands at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland.

There, while digging, wedding and resurfacing the Castle’s historic bowling green, the group are developing new life skills, with many also being inspired to develop gardening projects of their own.

Andrew, a member of Daybreak, who now has his own allotment, said: “We dig, tidy and clean all the borders up. I love it and hope to do the Castle’s flower beds one day too.”

Ray Walling, Life Skills Coach at Daybreak Coundon, added: “During their weekly visits to Auckland Castle our members get to try different jobs and meet new people, including members of the community, estates staff and archaeologists working at the castle and other volunteers.  This has already had a really positive effect and it’s fantastic to see them growing in confidence.”

Auckland Castle, which served as the private palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham for more than 900 years, was officially opened to the public in 2012.

Since then the Auckland Castle Trust has worked closely with schools, community groups and other charities to deliver a wide range of volunteering opportunities and public projects, both at the Castle and further afield.

Michele Armstrong, Head of Volunteering at Auckland Castle Trust, said: “The group from Daybreak Coundon have brought a real enthusiasm and sense of humour to the team at Auckland Castle.

“They, and all our other volunteers, really help to enrich the visitor experience and it is privilege to work with them on a regular basis.”

More information about the individual volunteering opportunities available with Auckland Castle Trust are available by contacting Michele Armstrong on 01388 743035 or Michele.armstrong@aucklandcastle.org, while larger groups and community organisations are advised to contact Alison Tweddle on 01388 743034 or Alison.tweddle@aucklandcastle.org.

Details of the services being offered by Daybreak, which include person centred pathways, are available at www.daybreakcentres.co.uk/what-we-do