Programme Reflections: Laura Patten

Last year, Laura set up Out of the Ordinary, a support group for parents and carers of children with disabilities or special needs. As a parent of a disabled child herself, the idea came from her own personal experience of wanting to talk with other parents like her. Where she was unable to find the help and support she was looking for, she created it herself!

Now, the group offers support and advice to parents like her, over coffee and biscuits on a weekly basis. Plus, Out of the Ordinary -Into the Outdoors is a regular walk and talk, with all the same qualities of the weekly support sessions just outside in the fresh air.

The group is based in Salterbeck, Workington and Laura joined the Programme to help her develop her leadership skills. One of her biggest challenges was the travelling involved. Here, she talks us through why that was such an achievement for her, and what else she’s learnt and enjoyed on the programme.

“The Green Leadership Programme began back in July, and we’ve met at a different location every month since then. The first venue was in Bradford so I travelled from Cumbria on 3 trains and stayed in a hotel the night before. I was nervous when I finally arrived at the location and we all introduced ourselves, but that day I think we all made friends for life. I felt really proud that I had kept my anxiety under control, travelled over a hundred miles on 3 trains, slept in a hotel, and met a group of strangers who soon became friends!

“As the programme continued, I found myself travelling to Liverpool, Manchester, West Boldon and Penrith, each time looking forward to seeing everyone and taking part in the workshops. I’ve learnt so much about myself and what I’m capable of.  

“I’ve been blown away by how lovely each venue has been, the amazing nature that’s there, the wildlife, and the ideas that have been shared with us. I’ve been lucky to have Kelvyn as my mentor -He’s an amazing man who just wants to help me succeed. He understands the need for my group and the work it does, and he has helped me achieve so much over the past few months, I can’t thank him enough.

“I’ll have lots of great memories from the program, particularly the people I’ve met, and the speakers who have shared their knowledge and experience with us. My favourite was probably in Manchester when we met Saba who runs a forest school near Pendle Hill. She showed us how to make kaleidoscopes using petals and leaves.

“Being a mum to 5 daughters I’ve never really been able to do anything by myself until I joined this programme so it’s been really great for me. I would like to thank Sam and everyone else involved in running the programme. Thank you for believing in me and my group!

Green Leadership Programme

The Green Leadership Programme is supported by Natural England and takes place over 5 months between July – November 2023. Participants take part in practical workshop sessions at different Green Community Hubs across the North and are matched with a Groundwork mentor providing ongoing support through the programme. Find out more below

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