Staff and service users from the Kirklees Insight team recently went back to their roots to learn more about food waste when they hosted a healthy eating course in a unique location.
After realising how much money they were spending on renting suitable venues for their ‘Save waste, save food, save money’ course, they decided to take the session down to their team allotment in Dewsbury.
The team are now in the second year of tending to their allotment and have seen it go from strength to strength. Every Monday a small group of service users and staff get their hands dirty sprouting a variety of fruit and vegetables, including cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and onions.
Support time and recovery worker Habib Dadhiwala said: “We thought it would be really engaging to hold our course on our allotment, and at the same time it would save money. We found that people who had never been to our allotment were coming down to learn more about healthy eating and food waste while the fruit and vegetables were growing and developing right beside them.
“One of our service users used to have a very physical job and loved being outdoors. He didn’t really engage with many of our activities before, but since we’ve had the allotment he’s been so much more involved. He’s been out in all weathers single-handedly repairing our raised beds and absolutely loves it. Some people who come to us don’t have much confidence but when they are out with us they just shine.
“Another person had quite bad physical health and didn’t want to take part in any activities. But the allotment inspired him to come up with a lot of practical ideas which he was able to turn into reality due to his previous job. He’s now made bird boxes, a picnic table and planters all from scratch. It’s never a chore for us to be at the allotment, everyone always just gets stuck in.
“Going to the allotment isn’t just about getting to spend time outside being active – there’s also the social aspect too. All the other allotment plot holders – even though they may be up to 40 years older than some of our service users – will come over for a chat and a cup of tea, and pass on their growing tips and plant cuttings to us. The allotment secretary said he had been doing his job for 15 years and had never seen anything like this. The other plot holders are always making comments like ‘Wow, amazing work’.
“We even held our staff team away day at the allotment and came together to fix and build a bench and shed. We recycle wood from local businesses and have even been donated some Yorkshire stone which we have made a feature out of.
“When we first got the allotment I had to encourage people to take on jobs and suggest to them what might need doing – but now they’ve totally taken ownership of it and get right on with the tasks. It’s so positive to see where people have come from to where they are now. It gives our service users such a sense of achievement to nurture something and watch it grow – we’ve seen that when people care for something they are able to flourish themselves too.”