United Response, would like to thank members of the community and businesses in York for coming to the rescue after an act of vandalism destroyed pumpkins grown by people with autism this Halloween.

United Response supports people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health needs to live the lives they choose. The charity runs the Autism Hub in York – a day centre style service which aims to develop the skills and interests of people with autism with the outcome being increased independence and an improved quality of life.

People supported at the Hub were growing pumpkins in time for Halloween. They began by growing them from seed in yoghurt pots and planted them in the Hub’s garden as they grew bigger.

Smashed pumpkins and donated pumpkins

For the people supported at the Hub, the process was not just about growing pumpkins, but about learning new life skills, involving months of planning and care.

After several months of nurture, the pumpkins were finally big enough to harvest for Halloween.

Sadly, before people were able to pick the pumpkins, they found them smashed to pieces in the garden in what is believed to be an act of vandalism. The people supported at the Hub were very upset and anxious after seeing their months’ of hard work ruined.

Staff at the Hub decided to raise awareness of what had happened by posting a picture of the smashed pumpkins on Facebook. The post was shared hundreds of times and encouraged people in the community to rally round and show their support.

Friends and neighbours gave donations and Tesco donated a generous 14 pumpkins, as well as Halloween decorations, carving kits, sweets and chocolates. Morrisons also generously donated four pumpkins along with a £20 gift voucher. Students from Hesley Group’s Fullerton House School became aware of what had happened and kindly offered to donate pumpkins and came all the way from Doncaster to donate eight.

Laura Elliott, Senior support worker at the Autism Hub, said:

“We feel so overwhelmed with the support and effort people have gone to, to donate pumpkins and other items to the Autism Hub. In this world where often people lead very busy lives, it is so heart-warming to see such generosity to prove that there are far more people willing to do good, than be hurtful to others.

“The pumpkins have and will continue to provide the people we support with hours of activities, including pumpkin carving, baking, soup making and photography. Each activity teaches them new skills and helps them to gain greater confidence.”

One person supported at the Autism Hub said:

“The pumpkins were a good hobby, we walked down to the garden daily to water them and care for them. I was disappointed to see that they had being smashed up. I felt happy when people donated pumpkins to us. We then had so many that we went round and gave them to other people supported by United Response in York and shared them out.”

United Response would like to say a huge thank you to everyone in the community for their kind support this Halloween.

For more information on the work of the Autism Hub, please email: [email protected]