University of Bristol’s Student Action for Refugees (STAR) has launched a gardening project for refugees in the heart of St Pauls- a central place considered to be relatively accessible by volunteers and target group- asylum seekers and refugees. The Grow Group is a community gardening project for refugees and asylum seekers based in the grounds surrounding St Agnes’ Church and in St Agnes Park in St Pauls.
Fleur Williams, Co-President, UoB STAR Group said, “The project aims to improve social integration and well-being through gardening as well as giving refugee volunteers who are not fluent in English the opportunity to practise their language skills in an informal and relaxed environment.”
She added: “The project runs on a Saturday morning between 10am and 12pm and each session is followed by free hot drinks and cake inside the church. The site also has a play park which means it is accessible for whole families to come down together.”
The main focus of the gardening is on growing fruit and vegetables which volunteers can then harvest, the approach we foster is that the garden belongs to the volunteers that use it so people are encouraged to take ownership and decide what they want to grow and how they want the space to be used. We also hope that the project will help refugee volunteers feel valuable to local community as well as helping them regain a sense of normality.