Disability Support South Tyneside

High Praise For Allotment Project

South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Martin Swales and Councillor Ernest Gibson visit the Holder House Allotment Project where service users put the finishing touches to their new stone watched by Chris Convery, Day Centre Officer.

A community gardening scheme helping to boost the confidence of people with learning disabilities has earned high praise from a South Tyneside Council chief.

South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Martin Swales and Councillor Ernest Gibson visit the Holder House Allotment Project where service users put the finishing touches to their new stone watched by Chris Convery, Day Centre Officer.

Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, visited Holder House Allotments in South Shields to see the good work going on at the site after hearing positive stories about the project.

The Holder House Allotment Project was set up in 2008 with the help of funding from the West Shields Community Area Forum. Since then, its members – who all have learning disabilities – have worked to turn the plot of land into a community garden and learning facility to be proud of.

The 44 service users, supported by Day Centre Officer Chris Convery, have taken part in various courses at the allotment site, helping them to improve their gardening skills as well as receive certificates for their achievements.

Martin said: “It was the first time I had visited the site. What strikes me about it is, for South Tyneside to be an area of success, we have to deliver and build strong communities and neighbourhoods with complete integration. And what we see here is the best of that.

“Individuals with a passion have set about creating something for others to enjoy and learn from. In learning and training, this is potentially providing people with the first steps to do something else, whether it’s confidence building or employment.

“It is great to see. Everyone looks happy and seems very passionate about what they are doing. It also looks, and has, a very positive atmosphere about it. It’s been well thought out and put together and everyone seems to want to contribute to its future.”

Martin’s visit was organised by Councillor Ernest Gibson, Chairman of the Select Committee for Children and Young People and Independent and Health Lives and Whiteleas ward member.

Councillor Gibson said: “Holder House Community Garden is an allotment site where horticulture enthusiasts with learning disabilities can enjoy their hobby, while learning new skills and meeting new people. I’ve followed their journey from the very beginning and it’s incredible what they have accomplished.
“It is an excellent community project which brings about so many benefits, from enabling us to provide training for local people to promoting healthy eating. Of course it’s the people working on the site who have made it the success it is. Long may it continue.”

One of the most recent activities at the site saw project members building a 19m wall with help from Duncan Naylor from Northern Training Company.
Service user Haider Wynne said: “We had to put the foundation in and put down stones. It was hard work, but we learned how to build a wall with cement.”
Caption: South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Martin Swales and Councillor Ernest Gibson visit the Holder House Allotment Project where service users Haider Wynne, Alan Clarke and Paul Butters put the finishing touches to their new stone watched by Day Centre Officer at Holder House Allotment, Chris Convery.

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