idverde have been working with Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) as part of its Future Gardeners scheme, which offers unemployed people in the Southwark (and surrounding) areas the opportunity to work towards a career in horticulture.
Founded in 2000, the aim of Bankside Open Spaces Trust is to support, involve and inspire people in Southwark and Lambeth to create, enjoy and care for green places. Last year BOST worked with 573 volunteers to manage and develop 15 parks and 12 community gardens. BOST runs projects which: work with homeless people to assist in rehabilitating them back into mainstream society; work with vulnerable adults to reduce social isolation and build self-confidence; give children in cramped housing the chance to play and engage with nature; help communities on estates grow food; and create sports facilities used by schools and families to improve health and confidence.
The Future Gardeners scheme includes a mixture of training for a City and Guilds qualification at Walworth Garden, practical experience in community gardens around Bankside and help with CV building and interview techniques. There are also talks from people already working in the industry and help from an employment advisor to get the participants and their CV work ready. Participants in the scheme also complete days of work experience at a variety of locations including Chiswick House and The Rose Society, and two weeks full time work experience with idverde on the company’s central London sites.
Three Future Gardener trainees have so far spent time working with the idverde team on sites including Coin Street, Regent’s Park, Jubilee Gardens and Burgess Park.
Louisa Mansfield, project manager at BOST commented: “The relationship with idverde has been a great success and is now an integral part of the Future Gardeners course. From meeting with Alistair who took the trainees round Regent’s Park and offered them all mock interviews, to working with Andy who set up the work experience in Burgess Park, it’s been a pleasure to work with idverde. It’s been extremely beneficial for the trainees to find out what it would be like to work for such a high profile grounds maintenance firm and in fact, as a result, one of the trainees has been successful in securing a seasonal gardening role.”
This scheme has made a real difference to the trainees involved – particularly for Edita Pociené, who having shown her commitment and aptitude for the work, was offered a seasonal position within the Burgess Park team. Greg Smith, head gardener at Burgess Park commented: “Edita initially joined us for 2 weeks of work experience in April. She impressed us with her natural gardening ability and hard work so was encouraged to apply for a seasonal role in Burgess Park. The following Monday she joined the ornamental gardening team and quickly settled in, getting on well with the team and picking up new skills quickly. Her contract finished at the end of June but she has done so well that it has now been extended until the end of September. When this contract ends, she hopes to find another position with idverde or elsewhere and to continue as a professional gardener into the future.”
Edita said of the scheme: “Before, I was struggling to find regular work and was getting by as an artist and by doing performing art at festivals. I signed up with BOST as I have always gardened a lot, helping my parents when I was younger and developing an interest in organic gardening. I have always grown fruit and veg and care about plants and nature.
“Since I’ve been at Burgess Park I have learnt a lot about plants and using tools and machinery. I have learnt lots about park maintenance and have improved my skills. I have also found it interesting working in the meadows and wild areas of the park. My favourite part of the park to work in is Chumleigh gardens which has a world garden with unusual shrubs and trees and very nice herbaceous flowerbeds. I have gained a lot of confidence in myself both as a gardener and in looking for and keeping work and hope I can continue to work as a gardener in the future.”
This is not the first time that idverde has supported schemes such as this; at our Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park contract we have worked closely with community social enterprise organisation Our Parklife to provide horticultural training and opportunities for the local Boroughs. This has successfully led to a number of trainees gaining paid employment with idverde or other similar organisations. Investing in our local areas through schemes such as Future Gardeners is a key part of idverde’s commitment to cultivating sustainable green communities in the areas in which we work.
The next Future Gardeners course is due to start in August 2017, for more information and to register your interest please contact Louisa on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7403 3393.