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Volunteer with Skills and Wellbeing

volunteer at Skills and Wellbeing event

The return of a beloved project

This September, our Skills and Wellbeing participants have been volunteering at Ysgubor Fawr, a garden inside St Fagans Museum. They have been helping to prepare the site for the new Secret Garden project which is starting soon. Our Step On and Insight into Climate Change volunteers are very excited for this new project to start. Many of them are planning on volunteering here on a weekly basis from October.

Our Skills and Wellbeing team have planned a one-off volunteering session with the aim of introducing our participants to the Secret Garden so they can decide for themselves if they would like to volunteer here in future. Each of our participants have work limiting health conditions. We aim to encourage people to think about the barriers they may face when looking for volunteering and how to overcome them. This new project will provide volunteering opportunities that are tailored to people’s needs and will offer support to encourage people to become successful volunteer.

Our volunteers soon got to work watering the bog garden and topping up the pond with the watering can and tidying up around Innovate Trust’s Secret Garden sign with shears and secateurs. They also spent a lot of time cutting back some of the brambles using lopers which had become overgrown during our time away from the garden. One of our participants helped to create some seed bombs using compost, clay and native wildflower seeds which we then handed out to each volunteer to plant in their gardens when they got home.

The benefits of volunteering

After our session, the garden looked much better and our volunteers were clearly proud of what they had achieved that morning. Our participants with learning disabilities often need support to understand why they are doing certain things. We discussed how helping to maintain the bog garden and the pond helps to promote biodiversity. Improving biodiversity is essential if we are to fight the effects of climate change. We made sure our participants knew why their work was important. Not just for the garden, but for the planet too. It’s important everyone feels valued. Learning about how volunteering and helping the planet assisted in helping our participants feel valued.

For many of our volunteers, gardening was a new type of work they hadn’t tried before. Our participants showed lots of confidence trying new things and using new tools. They asked lots of questions, demonstrating their eagerness to learn more about the garden. Being able to work well with a new group of people with different members of staff shows how far they have come since signing up to Step On.

Exploring St Fagans

To reward our volunteers for their efforts, our Skills and Wellbeing team celebrated with a picnic for lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring St Fagans Museum. Participants had the opportunity to learn about current climate change issues and how history can teach us how to cope with change. We visited the old water wheel which used to be used to power Melin Brompren Corn Mill. As a group, we discussed the advantages of powering something using water instead of petrol or coal. We also learnt about the effects of pollution, and how releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is contributing to global warming and climate change.

We stopped by Rhyd-y-Car terrace to look at the houses set out as they would have been between 1805 and 1985. Volunteers had the opportunity to explore these properties and look at how people used to live. We noticed people growing their own fruit and veg in their back gardens. Participants said that it would be good if more people did this these days. Growing your own fruit and veg at home is beneficial in so many ways. It helps you to get outside, enjoy nature, and learn new things. Gardening is a form of exercise and local food has less ‘food miles’ which helps fight climate change.

It’s important to offer people with learning disabilities accessible ways of learning. It has been great to be able to work closely with Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales to provide these learning opportunities for our participants.

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