Volunteer gardeners thrive at community allotment

Budding horticulturalists at a thriving Watford community allotment celebrated their achievements at the project’s fifth birthday celebrations.

Staff from Thrive Homes, which has supported the project since its launch, joined the festivities at the Dig Deep project, in South Oxhey.

Thrive’s Community Partnerships Manager Zulf Awan was invited to present certificates to Dig Deep volunteers, including a number of Thrive tenants, who have gained practical horticultural qualifications through their training at the scheme.

He said: “It was great to join the Dig Deep team for such a special occasion. As well as celebrating its fifth anniversary, we were also celebrating the achievements of volunteers and of the project as a whole.

“It has done so much in a relatively short time and I was honoured to be asked to present certificates to the individuals involved.”

Dig Deep, run by the charity ASCEND, helps vulnerable people – who may have found school-based learning difficult – gain skills, training and qualifications, while boosting their confidence and self-esteem.

Thrive has supported the project through its Community Grants scheme since 2010, recently awarding another £20,000 for the next two years, as well as providing practical help through its staff volunteering programme.

The allotment has helped 150 people over the last five years, enhancing their self-confidence, skills, health and wellbeing. Some have worked towards formal qualifications to boost their job prospects, with a number of them going on to do voluntary work and gain paid employment.

Christine Wyard, ASCEND Project Director, said: “Thrive Homes has been a great support to us right from the start, taking a real hands-on approach to getting involved with what we do.

“Without Thrive’s financial support too, Dig Deep would not be able to continue, so we were delighted to welcome Zulf to our five-year celebrations.”