The BBC Morning Live show recently visited an Ongo allotment on Somerby Road in Scunthorpe to learn more about their Growing and Learning project.
The project, which started in 2016, supports unemployed volunteers to gain valuable skills to add to their CV and help them become work ready, while also aiming to improve their mental and physical health.
Over 150 volunteers have worked on the project since it has begun.
Working either one to one or in a group setting, volunteers will learn a range of different growing and gardening skills.
They will work with Ongo’s Growing & Learning Manager on how to grow a variety of vegetables, learn about environmental issues, and other key aspects needed to secure employment, such as team working and confidence building.
John Cavill, Growing and Learning manager at Ongo, said: “Being outside in the fresh air and having a project to focus on is great for boosting the mental health of those I work with.
“The work we do really helps to improve their confidence and self-esteem by seeing a project from start to finish.
“It’s great to have something positive for our volunteers to focus on and add into their routine, I like to call what we do ‘good mood gardening’ as we find volunteers always leave the allotment feeling positive.
“We’ve seen many of our volunteers forming friendships as a result of this project, and see each other outside of the allotment. This again is another example of how brilliant it is for mental health and wellbeing.”
Maurice Cowan from Scunthorpe has been volunteering with Ongo on the allotments for just over three years.
He initially started volunteering after he retired from his full time job at the steelworks, realising he needed a new focus in his life.
He visited Ongo’s Employment Support team to see what options there were for him following his retirement.
They arranged for him to start volunteering with John Cavill, and he is still a regular volunteer three days a week.
Maurice said: “I have learnt so much during the time on the allotment, I’ve met lots of interesting people, made loads of new friends, and it’s great to be outdoors and involved in such a worthy project.
“This has really helped with my mental and physical health by keeping active and having something positive in my weekly routine.
“When I retired, I felt like I still needed a purpose and something to put my energy into, so this has been brilliant.”
Over 150 people have been supported by this project since it started in 2016, giving local people extra support and guidance to prepare for employment.
Going forward, Ongo says the project will continue focusing on the gardening aspect but will also look to educate its volunteers on environmental issues.
All the food grown at the allotment is either used in the café at The Arc in Westcliff, given to tenants or volunteers of the project to enjoy.
Main image: John Cavill and presenter Arit Anderson
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