The Community Roots allotment scheme provides supported volunteering, training and work experience opportunities to those who have experienced homelessness, mental health, and alcohol or substance misuse issues. It focuses on nurturing skills, team working and building self-esteem, as well as offering a chance to exercise in the fresh air and socialise! The allotment is a calm, peaceful place to escape the distractions of everyday life, yet tucked away just 5 minutes from Southampton city centre.
‘Community Roots’ project is a joint partnership between Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS) and Ideal Collection, a local hospitality group.
Ideal Collection grew from 3-6 venues and started employing 200 local people, Matthew Boyle, the owner of Ideal Collection was passionate to ensure his company gave back to the local community in a big way. In September 2013 Ideal Foundation was born. The strap-line ‘at work in the community’ underlines what the foundation focuses on - the community. After hearing SVS lost funding for an allotment scheme, the foundation paid up-front £16,000 to ensure the allotment could carry on to operate. 27 months on, Community Roots is SVS’s second most successful project.
“I really enjoy being the gardening mentor for the Community Roots project, helping our volunteers to grow vegetables and flowers on an inner City allotment. The allotment is a calm and peaceful place where we often see birds, foxes and other wildlife. I particularly love it when we harvest fruit and vegetables and share out the produce amongst the volunteers. We often discuss how to cook the produce and share ideas for recipes.” - Liz Marsh
As the Community Roots project is volunteer led, it simply would not survive and be sustainable without the amazing team of volunteers, from the allotment assistants, mentors and administration assistants. All the volunteers all bring different skills, knowledge and attributes which synchronise together to assist, run and develop the project. We meet twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday.
"I love celebrating and marking the seasons with the other volunteers, so in recent years we have had bonfires on 5th November, an Open Day marking St George's Day, decorated our Xmas allotment Christmas tree. These celebrations always include some food made from things grown on the allotment." - Liz Marsh
Learn new skills:
- Learn new practical skills,
- Develop existing skills,
- Get some fresh air and exercise,
- Work and make decisions as a team,
- Meet new people,
- Improve self esteem and confidence,
- Develop social skills and nurture hidden talents,
- Find out about allotment growing and maintenance,
- Try some outdoor cooking & eating!
- Opportunities for training, apprenticeships and employment.
What our volunteers say:
- I love learning new things about plants, it really helps my well-being and is therapeutic. - Steven
- Healthy, open space and great for meeting new friendly people. - Fleur
- Helps me get back into a routine, feeling more confident and gives me a positive feeling. - Ali
- Love being outside, learning and feel healthier. - Andy