YMCA North Tyneside has been awarded a £4,120 grant from the Fruit-full Communities fund to plant an orchard in North Shields. Last week I had the pleasure of seeing exactly where that money was going.
What is ‘Fruit-Full Communities?’
The project is supported by partnerships working with Learning through Landscapes, YMCA, International Tree Foundation and The Urban Orchard Project. It is part of a wider initiative called Our Bright Future and is Big Lottery Funded.
The project has seen the transformation of a large disused allotment in North Shields, donated by YMCA’s Treasurer David Hodgson MBE, into a space where young people living at YMCA are able to plant an orchard, contribute to environmental initiatives, grow food, relax and engage with members of the local community.
On Thursday of last week we were lucky enough to be joined by some fantastic volunteers from Warburtons and Virgin Money who really were a brilliant help! Everyone worked so hard and didn’t shy away from getting their hands dirty or the heavy lifting that was needed! We had arranged for a skip to be delivered so that the allotment could be cleared of rubbish and with all hands on deck, the skip was half full and the space looked better after just a couple of hours!
Also on site helping out were two of our residents who have been regularly contributing to the development of the project, as well as Eileen Toby who is one of our amazing Housing Support Workers. When I asked her how she felt the day went she said,
“The engineers from Warburtons were fantastic at working out the dimensions and finding solutions to storage and the work needed to achieve the end goal of getting the orchard planted properly. The four volunteers from Virgin Money and our resident, worked really hard on laying the pathway to the shed while keeping the fire going and clearing up. They all contributed so much. One of our residents was in awe of the volunteers, stating how great it was that these people were willing to give up their time to help us. This for me was very rewarding being able to see a resident feeling valued because people wanted to help.”
YMCA believes that the Fruit-full Communities Orchard project will give our young people experience of practical real-life situations which help them develop personal responsibility and enables them to feel valued as part of their community.
“Taking ownership for the design and creation of an outdoor space like the orchard really helps our young people to channel their energies and to get involved with others socially. The fact that so many people from companies such as Warburton’s and Virgin Money have volunteered to get involved in the back breaking initial ground work has been of tremendous value.”
Evidence has shown that increasing active participation in environmental projects benefits young people socially, economically and also has massive benefit in terms of physical and mental wellbeing. In addition, it is also reported that disadvantaged groups typically have less frequent access to quality spaces within the natural environment. The Fruit-full Communities orchard initiative is helping YMCA to redress this imbalance by getting young people involved in environmental work, which in turn will help to enrich a local urban space by providing a specialist habitat for plants, insects, birds and animals.
A massive THANK YOU to all of our amazing volunteers and to all the organisations that make projects like this happen!
If you or someone you know would like to get involved with our Fruit-full Communities Project then please contact us here at YMCA North Tyneside on (0191) 2575434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org