Newtongrange Guerrilla Gardeners have transformed an unused piece of derelict council land into a thriving community garden offering food growing and recreation opportunities for all in just a matter of months. Once the most significant mining village in Scotland, Newtongrange is home to people from all walks of life. The Gardeners, under the Newtongrange Development Trust (NDT), have brightened up small spaces across the village since 2021.
The model of community endeavour to create happy, healthy and better-connected local communities through food growing is not unusual; however, the Newtongrange volunteer story highlights opportunities to be gained from tapping into post covid home working patterns. Rebecca, the social media volunteer, ensures the group has a high profile within the village and beyond, “A strong social media following and regular updates on What’s On Newtongrange and NDT, presence at volunteer fares, banner advertisements and our group logo T-shirts, enables us to reach a wide demographic of people within the village. The newly formed garden regularly hosts up to 30 volunteers on a Tuesday morning; several of our core volunteers use their homeworking situation to volunteer with us. Some work flexi hours take their break time in the garden as an opportunity to step away from their desk mentally and physically. Through Employer Supported Volunteering, some are allowed to give money directly to their volunteer charity for the hours they attend out with their working day, and some get paid a day’s leave to complete volunteer hours within their community. Homeworkers offer so much, we’ve gained a new stream of steady volunteers, and everyone has benefitted.”
Julie, one of the gardeners, told us, “My employee allows me a minimum of 8 hours as a paid volunteer per year, as well as £500 a year, paid directly to the charity I volunteer for.
A 2019 report, Time Well Spent, makes interesting findings in this context:
- Most Scottish volunteers engaged with local organisations.
- A third of Scottish volunteers reported they were motivated to start volunteering because someone asked them to help.
- 14% of volunteers in Scotland currently do so through their Employer Supported Volunteer time, with 57% of those surveyed unaware that some employers offered schemes.
So if you work from home, or need exercise, fresh air and good company on your local doorstep, look for your nearest growing group. They need YOU!
If you are a growing group and want support to extend your volunteer base, make contact we are here and happy to help.