Project: The Garden Shed Project
Fund: Buckinghamshire Building Society ‘Here to Help’ fund
The Theatre Shed took on a neglected allotment plot in Chesham. They spent 12 weeks preparing and transforming the space into an accessible outdoor area where people of all abilities can develop horticultural skills and raise their aspirations. Participants of the project attended the site for 4 hours a week, clearing it of weeds and overgrown bushes. They dug out the plot and planned out what to grow and where, whilst also building and painting the new shed. Being involved in the project from it’s very creation gave the members a sense of ownership and achievement. Building the garden shed means they have a place to store the tools needed to continue to maintain the allotment, as well as a space to provide shelter and warmth during the colder months, and shade for the warmer months.
The participants are mostly adults with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and those who are struggling with their mental health. The project provides a positive and inclusive activity for them to work collaboratively together to grow their own flowers, fruit and vegetables. These adults work with the support of a highly skilled inclusive practitioner, one to two mentors, and many volunteers from the local community. The Garden Shed project also provides opportunities for those who are non-disabled to celebrate diversity and the capabilities of the disabled community, thus improving community cohesion and understanding.
Feedback from the beneficiaries
“H* loves being outside and hands on so this project has been perfect for him, it has made him feel helpful, valued and more confident. H has loved being part of a team and felt like an important part of the team; H especially liked being given the task of designing the path for the allotment.”
“I enjoy going to The Garden Shed to work on the allotment. It is hard work. I have not done this before but it makes me fit and strong.
The staff know and understand me and it makes me feel happy and safe.”
Pat cares for a 33-year-old man with Down’s Syndrome who has been attending the group since it started. He comes alive when he is with this group of people and really enjoys the Theatre experience. This has helped him move into something completely different where he feels safe and respected for his contribution, The group are so supportive of each other and intuitive of each other’s feelings. There is a feeling of ‘belonging’, something that you rarely see to such an extent. They say ‘once a shedder always a shedder’.,