Carlisle museum and cultural hub, Tullie, has used a £2,000 grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to support a volunteering project involving asylum seekers living in the city.
In 2017, Tullie created an accessible, courtyard-style community garden within its grounds, which is looked after by a small team of volunteers and enjoyed by thousands of local people every year.
The volunteering project was extended to asylum seekers living in the city after the museum’s community team recognised the importance of providing a welcoming outdoor space for them, where they could spend time, work outside, and use their horticultural skills.
The £2,000 grant has been used to bring in experienced project leader and keen gardener, Chuck Whitehead, to run the project, as well as pay for the necessary gardening equipment.
Over 100 men and women have taken part in the fortnightly sessions at the garden throughout the past year, with some of the volunteers visiting outside of the dedicated sessions to help with more work.
Lindsey Atkinson, community engagement producer at Tullie House Museum, says: “The community garden is always in demand, but with only a small team available to work on, we can’t always give it all the attention it deserves.
“Many of the asylum seekers living in our city had horticultural skills that they were keen to share, while the opportunity to get out into the open air and be part of a constructive community project in a safe environment was very much welcomed by everyone that took part.
“Alongside the garden improvements, the project has also had a positive impact on participants’ mental health and wellbeing, has helped to tackle social isolation and has enabled us to make Tullie a more welcoming and inclusive place to be.
“We have loved getting to know everyone and many members of the group are now our good friends.
"We simply couldn’t have made this project happen without Newcastle Building Society’s invaluable contribution and local people will be enjoying what it’s helped to deliver for a long time to come.”
Image caption: L-R Emma Dixon, Customer Adviser from our Carlisle Branch, with Lindsey Atkinson, Community Engagement Producer at Tullie.