Waverley Terrace Allotment is a project that was originally set up in late 2006 after an approach from mental health service users who had carried out some research
into the benefits to general health and wellbeing through being involved in horticulture
They also wanted a project that would be as inclusive as possible and not just about a defined activity for one group of people
Originally supported by Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Mental Health Matters and Hartlepool Borough Council the present allotment site was chosen for a number of reasons including the fact that a number of allotment sites had recently been refurbished and the land would be handed over by the council free of charge (lease agreement/peppercorn rent)
The allotment site (presently about 3.2 acres in size) has developed over the years and it now aims to provide an opportunity for vulnerable, socially excluded adults – offenders, those with a history of substance misuse, a learning disability or a mental health need – to make a contribution to their community. The project partnership has expanded and now involves other agencies including Hartlepool College of Further Education and independent allotment holders and a number of local voluntary and community sector organisations including Hartlepool Mind, and Disc. and HMP Kirklevington Grange prison
The allotment project provides opportunities for healthy exercise, social development and support as well as healthy eating for adults of all abilities, ages and background.
The Waverley Terrace Allotment provides people with the opportunity to spend time outdoors learning and exercising in a friendly, supportive environment. As the project has developed it has provided the volunteers and residents who access the site with a real sense of achievement as they watch the flowers and vegetables they have sown grow.
The project has received funding from various organisations to help with the set-up costs. A grant from ‘Safer Hartlepool Partnership’ paid for secure fencing around the site. The Primary Care Trust, seeing the health benefits of volunteering on the allotment, provided a member of staff part-time for one year to work with the volunteers. Other awards/grants have come from ‘Pride in Hartlepool’ a Mental Health Capital and Social Care Reform grant, and the Hartlepool Learning Disability Partnership Board have all contributed to the sites infrastructure, tools and equipment.
This funding has provided the site with a number of features. A gravelled car park set back from the road ensures visitors cars do not inconvenience local residents. Two glasshouses have been installed for growing seeds and raising plants and vegetables needing warmer temperatures. A paved area – with slabs donated by a local builder – make the allotment accessible for those with mobility difficulties. The installation of the metal clad compositing toilet and a portakabin have all contributed to the accessibility and of the site as well as providing good welfare facilities.
As mentioned previously the land was given to the project by Hartlepool Borough Council who could see the benefits of the project for vulnerable people but also just as importantly saw that the land was being used for fly tipping and could be used as a way of enhancing the local community The project was initially supported by the local PCT by way of a grant of thirty thousand pounds to install two greenhouses and a tool store and more recently we have secured an additional ten thousand pounds from ‘Communities from Health Funding’ to install a compost toilet on the site .We also secured funding from the Learning Disability Partnership Board to install accessible pathways and raised flowerbeds on the site
On Tuesday June 1st 2010 we held an ‘open morning’ which saw a number of people visiting the site including the Director of Adult and Children Services -Nicola Bailey, the Councils Portfolio Holder for Adult Services & Public Health-Cllr Ged Hall and, Louise Wallace, Assistant Director-NHS Hartlepool. The aim of the event was to promote the allotment site and to showcase the hard work of all of the allotment partners, who Include HBC Day services, Hartlepool Mind, Disc and other allotment holders. Just as importantly we wanted to highlight the allotment to local residents and to encourage them to become more involved or just to call in and say hello over a cup of tea and perhaps share their knowledge and skills
One of our partners Hartlepool College of Further Education gained the ‘Association Of Colleges-Beacon Award ‘ in 2010 This generated some great publicity for the project as well as for the college
The College won the Award for its work helping with the social integration and training of students with learning disabilities and difficulties, drug and alcohol dependency, or prisoners serving long sentences preparing to reintegrate into society. The scheme aims to prepare students for voluntary or paid work and is run in collaboration with key partners: Hartlepool Borough Council, HMP Kirklevington Grange and other agencies such as MIND and DISC.
We have started some work with pupils from two local primary Schools (Springwell and Kingsley Eco groups), we have hosted follow up visits at the beginning of April, May and August. The pupils show how the allotment site has developed since their first visit, including the area that’s is currently being developed with improved access and raised flower beds, into which they have inputted their own designs/ideas.
Both groups sowed Sunflower seeds for a competition which will be kept at the allotment site and will be able to see results at their next visit scheduled to take place in September.
We have also asked both Schools for Ideas for Murals/Mosaics which could be incorporated into the design of the garden
(We are currently in discussion with Arts & Cultural services about how the site could be utilised to display artwork and sensory materials)
Another recent development in engaging with younger people is through our involvement has a host project for The ‘National Citizen Service’. This project supports young people to work together, take on new challenges and make a difference. It is a Voluntary programme, full time for three weeks and in Hartlepool 250 people will hopefully sign up to this opportunity..
At the time of writing this report it was confirmed that 235 15-16 year old, (year 11 pupils) have signed up, with 32 young people specifically worki8ng over two weeks in July and August at the Allotment site.
Discussions are currently taking place with a number of partners including the councils economic and development team to see how the site could be developed to provide training and learning opportunities for local people
We have furthered our links with HCFE through establishing the Roots to employment project which was funded through the Future Jobs Fund
The project was successful in obtaining £172,000 which is primarily aimed at 18-24 yr olds but we are able to use this funding particularly for people with learning disabilities as they have been in receipt of benefits for more than fifty weeks and also live in what might be termed as disadvantaged wards in Hartlepool.
This project employed at total of 31 people. Sixteen of the new employees were given a six month contract on the National minimum wage, working as allotment assistants at Waverley Terrace.
The 16 employees together with the two site supervisors undertook training in several forms including
• Practical Horticulture
• Numeracy, Literacy and Employability Training
These courses were delivered by Hartlepool College and Owton Rossmere Community enterprise limited
The supervisors also undertook IT level 2 qualifications and extended first aid training.
Discussions are currently taking place around establishing the Allotment as a social Enterprise Essentially the aim is to try and ensure that this projects becomes self sufficient and build on the Roots to employment and the Apprenticeship Framework , in continuing to employ people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, providing training and, paid and voluntary employment. The project doesn’t wish to lose site of its original intention of being a community resource.
The client groups this project currently supports include: those affected by:
Mental Ill Health
Drugs & Alcohol
Additionally the service will also be promoted to older people and carers
Some of the key objectives of the project are to:
Promote social integration/re-integration
Reduce criminal activity and offending
Support service users to make positive lifestyle change
The Future of the Allotment
We have obtained funding from ‘Awards for All’(Big Lottery) which will be used to commission a three years strategy for the allotment site this work will be undertaken by Ground-Works North East.
This work around a strategy will helping us to look at the vision for the next three years, and including sustainability, community partnerships, diversification, training and employment will be facilitated by Groundwork’s North East who will ensure that all organisations involved in the allotment project are involved in the formation of a strategy and setting out the timetable for involvement and completion
Conversations are also taking place with HCFE, HMPKG and Orcel looking to see how we can build on the success of the Roots to Employment Project and the subsequent positive impact not only for the employees but also the allotment site. This means we need to produce a business model that will concentrate not only on generating income but also doesn’t deviate form the original aims of the allotment project
Other plans for the ongoing development of our project include:
• Continue the work and learning placements for Apprenticeships and school engagement work.
• Widen publicity about the allotment project and ensure that the site is fully functional with all amenities required.
• Working with the National Citizen Service to increase the involvement of younger people in community projects
• Meeting with representatives of the Wild Green Spaces Project. This project is funded by ‘Access to Nature’ grant and they will be offering a wide range of Volunteering opportunities including practical hands on improvement tasks, wildlife and plant survey, acting as voluntary wardens and assisting with events and activities In addition to this we are looking at other ways of financing and offering support through a volunteer programme at the allotment site
• We would like to use the allotment site and to work with other partners including , Health Eating Coordinator, Sports and Recreation Team and Health Facilitators to promote healthy eating via cookery demonstration at the allotment site