Survivors of domestic abuse and their children now have a safe outdoor space to relax and play

A Lincolnshire Women’s Aid charity has seen its garden overhauled in a five-day project completed by national contractor Willmott Dixon.

The extensive redesign of the garden enhances the space for residents at the local refuge, giving survivors of domestic abuse and their children a safe outdoor space to relax and play.

Consisting of the development of a zen garden, a play area for children and a sensory steppingstone memorial, the project saw supply chain partners and local businesses working alongside a team of Willmott Dixon volunteers to bring the new garden to fruition.

Hear from the refuge and the Willmott Dixon team about what this project means to the survivors of domestic abuse

Groundwork services were contributed by local civil engineering company Lawless Civils, while Atic Group provided the timber works and installation of 26 metres of raised flower and vegetable beds, benches and a sandpit. The shelter’s local branch of B&Q donated materials to the project, along with other local businesses including Dobbies Garden Centre, Horbury Group, and Gibbs and Dandy.

Sophia Barnes, assistant build manager at Willmott Dixon, was instrumental in managing the project as part of her Trainee Challenge, an initiative run by the national contractor whereby board members select one trainee per region to develop a project that will leave a lasting legacy in their local community.

Sophia said: “Almost one in three women will be a victim of domestic abuse in her lifetime, and I was that one in three. My Trainee Challenge was inspired by my personal career journey into the construction industry, which started with a course that empowered me to leave the violent relationship that I was in, giving me the tools to support myself and my young daughter independently.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support of supply chain partners, local businesses and the service users who have come together to improve the local Women’s Aid facility for the survivors of domestic abuse in the Lincolnshire area. We couldn’t have achieved so much without the support of the full team and I’m so grateful to Willmott Dixon for giving me this opportunity.”

Sophia’s garden project comes as part of an extended campaign to raise awareness surrounding domestic abuse, which featured a campaign video launch in July, a knowledge and awareness raising week in August, and the incorporation of domestic violence safeguarding into the national contractor’s wellbeing policy at the start of October.

Midlands Trainee Challenge 2022 (2).jpg

Sophia Barnes, assistant build manager, led this year's Trainee Challenge in the Midlands

Peter Owen, managing director of Willmott Dixon, said: “Sophia’s Trainee Challenge has been an inspiring project to behold, and we are proud to have been able to offer our support to such an excellent cause in Lincolnshire.

“We would like to express our gratitude to the supply chain partners and local businesses who have offered materials, their time and expertise, and monetary donations to support this cause. Their generosity has been critical to the success of this project and will leave a lasting legacy for years to come.”

Organisations that have supported this project include: GRJ Firestopping, Parish Joinery, Style South, Hillside, Firecorp Secure Solutions, Titan Interior Solutions, RDS Construction, Sage, CS Mansfield, Nationwide Fencing, Horizon, AWS, GBM Waste, DJ Swallow and Derry Ltd.

For more information about Women’s Aid, visit: