Serenity Community Gardens

By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser

I was approached by one of our volunteers who wanted to support with putting together an allotment group. The group came out of an idea created by CGL (Change, Grow, Live) who support people in recovery from addiction. The idea is around having an allotment space where people can go to grow things, create a space that they can be proud of, and, most of all, be there without judgement. The focus for the group is to be around recovery, not only for those battling the issues that exist around addiction, but also those overcoming mental health illness.

There was already a group of previous CGL users eager to join the group so it seemed quite simple. The group would dig and start planting, and I would assist with the paperwork so that they could look to opening a bank account and look to applying for funding.

This group was my first!! I was a so eager to get them up and running, to be honest, in hindsight, a little too eager. Not all of the group were confident in the responsibility of taking on a formal community group, and as part of my job role I should have been more aware of their lack of experience and how that was going to play a factor. Individuals had put themselves forward to take on the committee roles. There had even been a donation made to the group that paid for the ground rent for the plot with a little left over to pay for other bits and pieces.

Very quickly there was a conflict between the key members of the group, and it seemed as though the group was doomed to never get started. Another of the group leads was also facing up to the fact that they needed to go back into rehab and therefore wouldn’t be able to give their time as they would have initially liked. This also became a bit of a trigger for other members as well and it made me realise that to move forward I would have to offer a lot of support to the committee, and check in with them all regularly.

Serenity Community Gardens are now at the stage where they have a signed constitution, with committee members planning on attending the training being offered by RotherFed and VAR. They are working closely together to research which bank account will suit their needs best, a risk assessment and a code of conduct have been drawn up, and the allotment plot is starting to take shape. The members involved so far are proud of what they have achieved and looking at the future and at being able to offer the support to others in their journey of recovery.