Leap supports children, families, adults and communities through a range of projects including Greenscape, our social enterprise gardening service and an allotment group called Bloom for adults with learning difficulties and mental health needs.
Bloom is where I work as a support worker. As well as growing fruit and veg, we also use reclaimed timber to make nesting boxes, bug hotels and garden planters.
There’s something for everyone and lots of opportunities to try new things and develop new skills at the allotment.
Two members of staff attend the allotment on a daily basis observing social distancing rules. As the allotment is quite large this isn’t too difficult, just not very sociable!Paul
Before we had to make the difficult decision to close the allotment to service users, in line with government restrictions, we had started quite a lot of plants and produce growing in our polytunnel as well as a lot of veg outdoors in the raised beds.
Realising that plants and seedlings would spoil if not planted out and weeds would take over, it was agreed that a minimum number of staff would work on the allotment to keep it ticking over and ensure that all the hard work was not lost.
In line with relevant guidelines, two members of staff attend the allotment on a daily basis observing social distancing rules. As the allotment is quite large this isn’t too difficult, just not very sociable!
Mostly we are planting and potting as required, thinning out veg seedlings, watering, keeping pests and diseases at bay, general maintenance and, of course, weeding!
At the moment our coordinator is contacting service users and their carers on a weekly basis by phone, to provide consistency and support their wellbeing.
Overall, this strategy is working, although our service users are of course anxious to get back to the project. As well as keeping busy at the allotment, they enjoy the social aspect of Bloom and the friendships formed by attending.
There will be further challenges after lockdown is lifted.
With social distancing rules still in place, we will have to give a lot of thought as to how we can manage the situation and get back to some sort of normality safely.
Although the allotment is a good size, we have to consider many aspects including things like limited toilet areas and safe use of our small kitchen and resting spaces.
For now, we are doing what we can to maintain the allotment and support our service users during this uncertain time. Staying positive is crucial and we are all looking forward to the day when we can re-open, hopefully in time to enjoy some sunshine!