21 June 2018

The YMCA East Surrey allotment plot in Redhill is proving to be a valuable resource but we are in need of a helping hand – preferably with green fingers attached.

“We have a fantastic group of young people with additional needs who love getting their hands dirty on the allotment,” explains YMCA Inclusive Youth Projects Manager, John Brunswick.

“Our ‘Don’t Lose the Plot’ initiative helps the young people to learn important life skills, retain information and become active members of the local community, while providing hidden physical activity which benefits them health wise.”

The group meet weekly during term time but aren’t always based at the allotment.

“We would love some extra help from anyone who has a little time to spare,” says YMCA Inclusive Coordinator, Dan Grimmet.

“The young people have learned an enormous amount, but they do struggle with the main body of gardening needed to sustain a plot like this. Next week, we are visiting RHS Wisley and then we have gardening projects to do for the MacMillan Centre at East Surrey Hospital and the local Garibaldi pub, so the allotment can get quite overgrown when we’re not here.”

This week, the group welcomed the help of a volunteer group from Marks and Spencer in Redhill, who weeded, painted, cut grass and tidied the plot.

Kiefer Glover has been Operations Manager for five years. He says:

“Ten of us have come along today as part of the Marks and Spencer ‘Making Every Moment Special in the Community’ enterprise. The staff love getting involved and a couple of the team have even joined us on their day off. Getting involved is a personal pleasure for everyone here and not just a corporate obligation.”

Marks and Spencer donated £500 to the ‘Don’t Lost the Plot’ project, which the YMCA team spent on equipment which will benefit the group and enhance the allotment.

Local resident, Sam Ingram, is thirty-three and has made new friends by joining the project.

“It’s good fun and I enjoy doing any job that is needed,” he says. “I am now growing onions, leeks and herbs on my balcony at home.”

Potential gardening volunteers are urged to call the YMCA Sovereign Centre on 01737 222859 to find out more information about the project.

“No experience is necessary for anyone out there who could maybe spare us some time,” says John Brunswick.

“Just a few hours a week would make all the difference in keeping this special area ticking over for the young people to enjoy. Please get in touch if you can help.”

  • Don’t Lose the Plot is a fun and educational horticultural project for 18+ year olds with learning and physical disabilities in the East Surrey area.
  • Gardening has many benefits: physical, cognitive, social and psychological.
  • This project enables young people have the opportunity to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers on our allotment and garden out in the community at local parks and clearing allotment plots with Reigate & Banstead council.
  • The project will become a social enterprise where young people will be able to offer their skills to the local community and other community groups.
  • The donation from Marks and Spencer was a part of their Discovery Grant, which focuses on promoting and encouraging community awareness.