Twins’ six-month volunteering placement turns into five years

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Twin brothers Matthew & Stephen Barrett began volunteering with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) in Hull for a 6-month placement, 1 day a week as part of their supported internship course at Hull College.

6 months turned into 5 years, and the brothers have continued volunteer with TCV, 3 days a week, come rain or shine and always with a smile on their face.

Matthew and Stephen both have autism and TCV provides them with a groups where they can develop their skills, meet new people and be encouraged to try things that they wouldn’t normally do.

I have Autism and really struggle with making friends and communicating socially, volunteering gave me an opportunity to have lots of fun within the team and has really helped me to be a bit more outgoing,” said Matthew.

Alongside learning practical conservation skills such as general site safety and how to use tools like bow saws and scythes, the brothers have been developing their social skills through volunteering with TCV.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I could contribute to the group. I was quite shy and am often unsure of myself. Now, I really feel like part of the group and they supported me to become more outgoing and confident. The group is really good, and I feel a valued member of it. This makes me very happy.


Volunteering hasn’t come without its challenges, with the brothers admitting that some of the more physical aspects involved being a challenge. However, they are quick to point out that these challenges were soon resolved through group work and advice from their Team Leader.

Whilst the activities range across TCV groups, one thing remains consistent throughout; how good it feels to be part of a team making a real difference to a valued outdoor place whilst learning new skills and meeting new people.

Simply by involving me and allowing me to participate, the group really supports me to develop social interaction and social communication,” says Matthew. “Without access to TCV, I don’t know where I would be able to find such an inclusive group of people. I’m really very happy here.”

Through the work of TCV, people improve their confidence, skills and prospects, through learning inspired by the outdoors.

TCV are dedicated to connecting people with green spaces, and often the positive outcomes reach further than just the local environment.

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