He talks about how the service’s allotment is helping people to learn new skills, develop relationships and engage with nature. He also discusses how the allotment is a shining example of co-production:
I first joined Richmond Fellowship in 2011 as a casual worker. The main area of work I have around co-production is our allotment. We acquired this large patch some time back and it was in a very sorry state.
Since then we’ve worked to turn it around and make it central to the support we provide to people using our service. The allotment is separated into 14 patches with every service user allocated their own area. They can decide what they want to grow in that space and work with staff and other service users to make this happen.
We’ve had fantastic feedback from people. Tending an allotment can be a distraction for people away from some of the problems in their lives. And we’ve found that people who may have been shy in the traditional group setting and unwilling to engage have, over time, began to talk with their peers, share ideas and knowledge and really work together to develop our allotment.
So far we have sunflowers, runner beans, peas, carrots, onions, spuds, courgettes, turnips, tomatoes, pak choi, cucumbers, peppers, chives, rhubarb… it’s really varied and brings a lot of joy to us all.
People like to see things grow and there’s something very rewarding for people to see the fruits of their labour emerge. It’s also very rewarding for me as a Recovery Worker to see people’s confidence and skills grow as well.
When the produce comes to harvest we’re looking into setting up a cooking group to help people understand the benefits of healthy eating and to share ideas around how best to use our vegetables. When that time comes we’ll be using co-production to make it a success for everyone.