Volunteering is good for you – that is the verdict of eleven volunteers from npower’s offices in Solihull, after spending a day working at the Sherbourne Valley allotments, in Spon End, Coventry, helping to develop another area to be incorporated into Coventry MIND’s Gardening in Mind project.
The challenge was to prepare the land quickly to make it a viable, growing environment and for that, some back-breaking work was needed. Volunteers worked with users of the charity’s services to erect a new archway, create paths, build a raised bed and cut back hedgerows.
The charity currently has five allotments and has been awarded Lottery funding amounting to £107,496 over three years, from the Local Food programme.
Cathie Birta, senior operational manager of Coventry MIND, explained: “It’s well-recognised that green exercise benefits physical and mental well-being. The allotments are a therapeutic environment in themselves but what makes this particular project special, is that the food grown here is distributed and sold at outlets across the city, and provides an opportunity for users of the service to contribute to the local community.
“We are very grateful to the npower volunteers for their hard work. They did a brilliant job and have absolutely transformed the plot into a functional and therapeutic space.”
Everyone on the task was a first-time volunteer, although team leader, Sally Perkins, an investment planning analyst, believes it won’t be their last.
She said: “This has been a great way of giving something back to the community. We have all suffered the usual aches and pains after a hard day’s physical work, because we are all primarily office-based, but it was worth it to get out into the fresh air and be able to see what we have achieved.
All of us have said that volunteering has been rewarding.”