Our students at Wigan training centre have started a community-based project at Mesnes community allotments. They have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in with digging, planting and weeding.

Our centre manager Joann Webster contacted the employer, Dawn Thomas, who said she would love to have some of our students join her down on the allotments. Dawn has a son with anxiety and learning difficulties who is currently enrolled on our programme, and wanted to give our students the opportunity to develop their skills and help them to become work-ready.

The Wigan students were keen to get started at the allotments. One student in particular, Bradley Shaw, was more than happy to attend as he is an avid gardener himself. Bradley has social anxiety and is mostly non-verbal, but he is feeling more confident since being on programme. He said: “My communication skills have improved and I am starting to speak more to other students”. This is a massive improvement for Bradley and he is beginning to take steps to get ready for employment.  

Dawn wanted the students to rejuvenate the spiral herb garden, so they were given a budget of £20 to buy seeds and bulbs of their choice. What was once a pile of rubble is now a fresh garden of herbs which will be ready next year. The students also tidied the raised flower beds and potted new strawberries. They have also been taught about planning ahead and have started to take seeds from plants such as sweet peas and beans, so they can be stored for next year.

Plans for the future

With the hard work that the students have done at the allotments, they will be able to sell their own produce that they’ve grown on their very own market stall. All the proceeds will go to the Mesnes Allotments to help them purchase more materials to ensure they have another good year of gardening.

The Growth Company bed                                                                                             

Dawn has given us our very own raised bed which is by the entrance of the allotments. Our learners have revived this space by planting pansies, snow drops, crocus and iris ready for winter and spring. In just a few short months, this bed will have grown and developed - just like our very own students!

Something for indoors

We have activities planned for indoors – Brad is designing his very own unique garden. They will be working in groups to create and draw plans which will help them to develop their maths and English skills.

What do the learners think?

Our students are very happy to take part in this community project and have given some excellent feedback:

Brad:

“Since I have come to the community allotments and been with The Growth Company, I feel that my confidence has grown.  It has grown that much and with the help of the staff I have had the confidence to go for a job interview at Amazon and I am pleased to say I got the job.”

Aaron:

“I really like Dawn. She is really helpful and has shown me how to use the equipment.”

Winona:

“I didn’t think I’d like gardening but it’s been really fun and I have learnt how to plant plants and weed the beds. I have learned more maths too because I have done some measuring with Dave and he helped me to work out how many bulbs I could get into one of the beds.”

Dylan:

“Sometimes it’s cold but you warm up when you start digging and they have got a kitchen where we can go and make a brew. I am learning new skills and how to use all the gardening tools.”

Dawn has been very happy with our learners - she said:

“They are lovely young people and I can honestly say they are a pleasure to work with. They have all taken part and nothing is too much trouble. They are making a positive difference to our allotments and we are already starting to see the improvements they have helped to make…We hope we can continue to work with The Growth Company because they are doing a great job with the young people on their programme.”