The allotment project provides a form of therapy for clients with a history of long-term problems such as a criminal history, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues and homelessness. Clients grow in self-esteem and confidence as they learn to sow and harvest produce. Esther Lambert is the Allotment Project Manager and she let us know how it's going....
The allotment project is the smallest project at Crisis Centre and has been going for two and a half years now. For me, this project has always been about building relationships within the group, enjoying gardening and being part of a family. I am very proud of the clients who attend and I have seen them grow in maturity and character over the years. It’s not a perfect family, but whose family is? Going to the allotment on a Monday afternoon with the clients is one of the highlights of my week. I have suffered from depression myself and discovered that being out in the fresh air helped me tremendously in terms of motivation, energy levels and a sense of enjoyment.
This spring and summer have been lots of fun. We have had a group of about 6 of us who regularly commit each week. Having a small group enables the project to have a 'family' feel to it which enables us all to feel safe and comfortable with each other. As I reflect on the last few months, I have seen the clients change especially in the way they learn to communicate with each other and handle conflict. For example, a couple of weeks ago two of the clients had a disagreement and were shouting at each other for a while. They both came to the conclusion that they were having a tough day and were struggling with a few personal issues. They apologised to each other and had a big hug. That wouldn’t have happened several months ago when they began coming to the project!
In the summer we had a generous financial donation from a lady who spent 6 months volunteering with us. She was great fun and got stuck into life at the allotment. We discussed as a group how we wanted to spend the money. We decided on a new BBQ and picnic table, which was definitely money well spent.
What a privilege for me to spend Monday afternoons doing what I love with a fantastic group of diverse people!