YMCA Trinity Group’s Shine Allotment project recognised in national Youth Matters Awards
Staff and volunteers at YMCA Trinity Group’s Shine Allotment Project are celebrating becoming finalists for Family Work Project of the Year at the YMCA England and Wales Youth Matters Awards.
Youth Matters Awards is an annual event run by YMCA England and Wales, which recognises the achievements of young people, staff and volunteers across the charity.
The Shine Project, which is a youth-led campaign, is aimed at 8–16-year-olds living in Lowestoft, supporting them to realise their full potential and raising their aspirations.
The Allotment Project was set up as part of this mission, counteracting the lack of safe outdoor spaces for children and young people to learn and grow and the declining heritage of growing your own fruit and vegetables.
Kay Westgate, Youth Engagement Manager, said: “We are really pleased to have been nominated for this special award, which recognises all the hours of hard work put in by our staff and volunteers.
“The space is really important to our community with at least 30 young people visiting the site per week, including our nurseries who currently bring children four times a week.
“The allotment allows young people to engage in nature and enjoy the outdoors away from technology, mixing generations and learning skills that could so easily be lost in relation to methods of growing, crop rotation and natural pest control.”
Last year, the allotment saw the addition of a new double plot complete with a 25-foot polytunnel, enabling volunteers to grow more over winter and run sessions all year round in all weathers. Volunteers have also introduced a wildflower meadow to increase insect habitats, raised beds for the nursery children to access more easily and a large pond.
Educational sessions include looking at what plants need to grow, learning about the cross-pollination of plants, creating new habitats for wildlife, recycling and why it’s important to look after the environment.
The produce from the allotment is used in youth cooking sessions so that young people see the full transition from planting a seed to eating a healthy homegrown meal. The space also provides somewhere young people can just be in the peace and quiet or take part in art and craft activities that are therapeutic and support positive wellbeing.