9th Feb 2022

Photo: Scotswood Natural Community Garden in full bloom 

Scotswood Natural Community Garden (SNCG) have been able to run an innovative gardening project in partnership with West End Refugee Service, thanks to a grant from the Curtin PARP Fund at the Community Foundation. The fund is one of several funds at the Community Foundation that has a priority to support environmental projects. 

The ‘Growing Together’ project aims to prepare people for work in the gardening and conservation sectors. The grant allowed SNCG to cover the salary costs of a Garden Officer, specifically to support refugee and asylum seekers, to engage with the project.  

The participants took part in outdoor conversation volunteering, work experience and training, three days a week. Working in small groups under the provision of the Gardening Officer, participants worked outside on a range of ambitious gardening and conversation projects, meaning that they learned skills including landscaping, beekeeping, carpentry and making preserves to sell. 

Elaine Holdsworth, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation explained how this environmental project had many benefits:  

“The Growing Together Project was an important early step for refugees and asylum seekers to develop confidence and skills in a gardening environment. Scotswood Natural Community Garden have demonstrated how an environmental project can be an impactful way of engaging with participants and provide them with opportunities they may otherwise not have had”.  

Asides from the skills that participants had gained, there were added benefits to the project including improvement to health and wellbeing by bringing people together. 

Sean Clay, Community Manager at Scotswood Natural Community Garden said: 

“Thanks to the grant, we have been able to deliver supported outdoor conservation volunteering sessions and accredited training to people seeking sanctuary in Newcastle. People have told us how beneficial being part of the Garden has been to their mental health and wellbeing. The project has brought people together for social opportunities in what has been a really stressful time and it has been great to see people grow in confidence and develop their skills”. 

The Curtin PARP Fund, established in 2019, has already made nearing £100,000 in grants. The Fund largely focuses on supporting projects that help people whose circumstances have limited their chances to realise their potential. More recently, the Fund has actively looked to support people who wish to study or develop a career in environmental/green jobs as a priority. 

The Curtin PARP Fund is a rolling grants programme and open to applications all year around. Further details can be found here. 

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