Seeds of brotherly love sprout thriving social enterprise for people with autism
What a difference a couple of years and a pot of seeds can make.
A few years ago, George Arkinstall was working the graveyard shift at a service station and was “in the middle of a dark period” where he struggled to get motivated.
“I found it hard to even to get the smallest things done. Your level of care just isn’t there and as a result people think you are a bad worker,” Arkinstall says.
His brother Harry, wasn’t doing too well either. Harry has autism, and although high functioning, he struggled to hold down a job for more than a couple of months.
Arkinstall explains that both he and Harry felt largely unsupported and misunderstood in the workplace.
“Harry really struggled in the workforce, [the places he worked] didn’t have the education or necessary supports for someone who has high-function autism,” he says.
“In a way he was taken advantage of, he was underpaid, I think it was even below minimum wage and there were no systems in place to support him.
“He was treated like any other employee they had, which in his circumstance, isn’t enough to keep him at the job. He is either going to get sick of it because he is frustrated or he is going to get fired because he is not doing it right, there needs to be extra effort to make sure he is doing the job properly.
“I had a look around a there were very few workplaces that had the supports for someone on the autism spectrum.”
Filled with a conviction that there must be another way, Arkinstall started Gardening with a Difference, a small gardening enterprise dedicated to raising awareness and employing people who experience depression or live with autism.
Now 22, Arkinstall is the sole owner of the enterprise that celebrated its one year anniversary on Saturday.
Over the first year, Gardening A Difference, grew from the two brothers to employing an additional three people either with autism or depression.
Arkinstall says Gardening A Difference is a supportive workplace for people with autism or depression.
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