Over 30 volunteers came along to a volunteer taster event on 5 June where they got to try their hand at several gardening activities at Grow Speke – a community garden developed in partnership with South Liverpool Homes and Groundwork CLM and funded by Merseyside Police through Proceeds of Crime Act money.
The event was held to tie in with National Volunteers’ Week, a UK-wide campaign that’s celebrated each year on 1-7 June and showcases the fantastic contributions that volunteers make around the country.
The garden is creating a place where people can make new friends and learn new skills and is maintained with the help of local residents who attend regular volunteering sessions during the week.
Colin has been volunteering at the garden for over a year and loves getting involved, he said: “I love coming down to Grow Speke, it’s like a little oasis. It’s allowed me to use some of my knowledge about gardening to make a difference to the local area. When you are unemployed, you can become a little isolated and it affects your confidence. Grow Speke has introduced me to new people, helped me to rebuild my confidence and given me a new purpose in life.”
Some SLH employees took this opportunity to use their annual ‘give something back day’ to volunteer at the event, with helpers from Give Get Go and Health Watch Liverpool getting involved too. Joined by the local community they painted picnic tables, planted flowers and helped clear the site by weeding and cutting back hedges.
The volunteers got to take their pick from some of the homegrown vegetables and herbs at Grow Speke. The site boasts everything from fresh strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes and broad beans to herbs like tarragon and basil. Grow Speke’s own Ulster Prince potatoes were even enjoyed with sausages on the BBQ later in the day.
Joe Cummings, Enterprise Manager at South Liverpool Homes said: “Volunteers are pivotal to the sustainability of the garden. It’s a huge site, over an acre in size so any help that people can give is really appreciated. We have regular volunteers at the site who contribute over 40 hours each week between them and to put it simply, the garden wouldn’t be here without their invaluable support.”
Brendan Cassin, Project Manager at Grow Speke said: “It was fantastic to see so many people turn out to help at the volunteer session, it has made a huge difference to the site and we can’t thank them enough. We want to encourage as many people and businesses from within the local area to support the project and get involved.”
Grow Speke is a projectthat was launched in 2017 and since then has transformed a patch of derelict wasteland into a thriving community garden. The site is located behind Damwood Road in Speke.