On Friday night, I was delighted to attend the Richmond Business Awards as the guest of local MP and great supporter of United Response’s work Dr Tania Mathias.

We hoped to spread the word about United Response’s work in Richmond, with the aim of extending our reach to more people and of identifying local businesses who might be interested in employing some of the people we support.

Many of the people we support tell us they want to work, and nowhere is this truer than in Richmond, where many young people are actively engaged in working, both on a paid and voluntary basis. In fact, they are so keen to work that, with our support and a small grant from our Community Sparks programme, generously funded by the Clothworkers’ Foundation, they have set up their own social enterprise!

Sheer delight at success

From small seeds, Richmond’s Garden Gnomes has grown into a thriving business that maintains gardens in the local community and provides real paid employment opportunities to young adults with a learning disability. And so I was especially delighted to be joined at Friday’s awards by one of the Garden Gnomes – Dan, who lives in Richmond – and by local project manager Adam. 

We were all even more delighted that our work in Richmond – and the Garden Gnomes in particular – were Highly Commended in the Best Charity/Social Enterprise category of the awards.

Diane Lightfoot, MP Dr Tania Mathias, Garden Gnome Dan and his support worker Adam

(From left to right) Diane Lightfoot, MP for Richmond Dr Tania Mathias, Garden Gnome Dan and support worker Adam enjoyed the ceremony

While we were only runners up and not the outright winner (an accolade that went to the very deserving Mind charity in Richmond), I don’t think I have ever seen anyone as excited to receive an award as Dan; if anyone was in any doubt at how pleased he was, his cheers and air punches would have put paid to that!

Dan, who we support, give a big thumbs up about his social enterprise Dan, who we support, raises a glass of champagne in a toast to his win

Garden Gnome Dan was thrilled at the commendation

Dan and Mayor of Richmond Councillor Martin Seymour

Mayor of Richmond Councillor Martin Seymour presents Dan with his certificate

Hire the Garden Gnomes for yourself or contact Richmond

It was a privilege to be able to share the evening with Dan and Adam and to meet so many people who were really interested in our work. We hope that, by being recognised at these awards, local businesses and employers in Richmond will be encouraged to contact us and take a look at the untapped workface ready and available within the community. 

To find out more about our work within Richmond please email Adam.

Contact our Richmond service

You can also get in touch and keep up to date with all the local activities going on at United Response Richmond by following them on Twitter and liking their Facebook page.

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Diane Lightfoot, director of policy and communications.