An overgrown patch of land at All Saints’ Church in Dallow has been transformed into community allotments, thanks to the efforts of 14 unemployed Luton volunteers.
The volunteers came together for the Green Skills employment course run by community charity Groundwork Luton and Bedfordshire. Since mid-February the group has been learning practical skills and putting them to use at the church, in Luton’s Bury Park.
The site now boasts nine very colourful raised growing beds, a shed, compost bays, a water harvester and a bark chip surface to stop the working area getting muddy over winter.
The group put its stamp on the project when it noticed a potentially treacherous gap between the site and the adjacent building. They designed and constructed a countryside-style guard rail to overcome the problem and keep future site users safe.
The volunteers have boosted their job prospects through a City and Guilds Award in Employability Skills, training for the CSCS test – the health and safety qualification that’s crucial for work in the construction industry – and interview training with professionals from the Nehemiah Foundation and John O’Conner.
Project partners and residents who will now use the site to grow fresh fruit and vegetables gathered at All Saints’ Church to celebrate the completion of the project with the volunteers, and are pictured.
Christian Iszchak, Groundwork’s community project officer, said: “This group really understands the value of volunteering. As one of them put it, you have a completely different mentality when you’re carrying out hard, physical work for a wage compared to when you’re doing it for the benefit of other people - it’s far more rewarding. I’m glad that, on top of this great feeling, the group have been able to get work experience, qualifications, confidence and new friends out of the project too.”
This Green Skills course was made possible by funding from Luton Adult Learning, Lottery Awards For All, Near Neighbours and Your Say Your Way.
David Kesterton, priest in charge at All Saints’ Church, said: “We are delighted to have put this land to good use for the benefit of our local community and to bring people together as they grow their own food. This shows what can be done when we bring the right partners together to benefit the people who live in our neighbourhood.”