Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Volunteering is good for the soul!

I'd read a book, a kind of self-help manual on happiness bought as a gift (I do love a good self help book!) and one of the subjects was volunteering. Ask me about volunteering two years ago and I'd have looked at you like you we're crazy or drunk, but as I get older I wanted to start giving back and adding to the community which I live in... So by some uncanny bit of synchronicity I received the opportunity to volunteer and get my hands dirty with the good folk from Bensham's Comfrey Project, a refugee gardening project situated at the junction of Bensham Bank and Coatsworth Road which is a registered charity working with refugees and asylum seekers on allotment sites across Newcastle and Gateshead with the aim of improving their conditions of life and general wellbeing.

Soltan trims back the hedge
From the minute I arrived I could feel an atmosphere of happiness and friendship, I met everyone, attempted to remember as many names as possible and got tucked into clearing the weeds from an hawthorn hedgerow with some of the guys.

We soon broke off for lunch (which I wasn't expecting) and sat outside in the sun and enjoyed a meal made by some of the cooks using ingredients harvested straight from the polytunnel which was in full bloom (if only I had the space for one at our house!) the food was delicious, a squash curry, flat breads and a salad made from greens which I have to say was very nice indeed.

The Comfrey Project is a great addition to Tyne & Wear and makes a visible difference to the people who attend. I'm kinda getting addicted to the volunteering bug and my next stint will be getting all dusty at the renovation of an old carpet warehouse for the new Star & Shadow Cinema base, if you want to join me message me, I guarantee you'll walk away with a smile on your face and an handful of great new friends.

Squashs and Marrows from the Comfrey polytunnel
The polytunnel
The best form of transport for Newcastle & Gateshead
In bloom
Recycled bottle greenhouse
John the beekeeper tends to the hive in full suit, i'm keeping my distance
Hand picked Elderberries to be made into a winter tonic full of vitamin C
Craig shows round another guest 
John's dog
Hiley watering the sprouts
a seriously good looking Artichoke flower
Chamomile flowers used for making a relaxing tea after some intensive gardening

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