‘A bad tree does not yield good apples.’ – Danish proverb
Last year Pennine Lancashire Community Farm appointed Rana as a peer to peer support worker to help build connections between the Farm and the community, hence facilitating the usage of the available outdoor spaces. Rana is dedicated and enthusiastic about her gardening and her job, ‘I’m a passionate gardener and find it very soothing and relaxing’ she said. ‘I have been working with the people from this community. I do the translation service, when required, I also do various admin work around the Chilli Club and manage a volunteer and an intern from Burnley College.’
This is a very busy time of the year for Rana, ‘At the beginning of each financial year every Chilli Club member is contacted via a letter and a renewal form. They need to complete and return the form to the office to be registered. The site gets monitored via a map of the beds to who is using the bed. I also reallocate plots that are unused to people who are waiting on a waiting list, it is also very competitive to get a plot around this area, as we have a very long waiting list. We do have some keen gardeners who like to come and have chats on how they would like to see things improve around the allotments.’
In October 2017 we selected twelve ladies from the community to come and join the Open Awards Entry Level Award in Horticulture Skills classes. This course is in a joint venture with Accrington and Rossendale college. To help these ladies the college provides a support worker, and we provide a translator to support the ladies complete the course. At present they have practical knowledge on how to prepare a bed, how to identify and dispose of weeds. They also managed to follow the criteria City & Guilds uses to sow seeds.’
Another project Rana has worked on is The wide project:
In January we had decided to help out with a bench making project which is called the WIDE project. In this project we were asked by Bea and Lisa to select some ladies from our community, to merge with another community group, to help the groups come together and build three different benches. In each session they did activities that will help them get to know each other such as: storytelling, tell each other’s names, pick out smarties from a bag and tell something good starting with that colour etc. They also did some activities that involved helping choose the colour and the words for the benches.
Rana has a wider picture in mind beyond these projects; ‘My overall aim was to start various project for the woman in this community to help them get out of the house and start interacting with the wider community. With the projects it has given these ladies the opportunity to get out and show how highly skilled they are, even though some of them are illiterate or have very little English. It has also helped these ladies build their confidence and communicate amongst others other than themselves.’
‘I have been asked many times if we are going to do any day trips. The ladies who we are focusing on for the trips are between 50s and 60s or sometimes in their 70s. Some of these ladies have extended families but enjoy going out with friends or relatives from the community, because they have certain illnesses or conditions that stops them from doing things that they enjoy. I personally feel the ladies are enjoying themselves and they are getting a sense of achievement in coming out and interacting with others.’
Rana has clearly enjoyed a sense of satisfaction in her role, strengthening our roots across the community and watching the fruits develop, ‘It is a great pleasure to watch the ladies grow and develop out of their comfort zone to experience the resources available out there for them. I would like to set up a volunteering group where the ladies put their practical knowledge into practice and they can design, sow, grow and pick their own vegetables. This would also tie into a healthy eating project where the ladies pick their organic vegetables and do a healthy cooking session.’
For more information about any of these projects please contact Rana Begum.