The new ‘GRO’ project runs every Saturday morning from LEAP’s allotments in Hyde. We asked Jo Parry-Gee (Chief Officer) to share a bit more about this new supported service helping children to bond with family members:
“On Saturday 8th May 2021, we launched GRO (Growing Relationships Outdoors) our new weekly supported contact sessions from our large community allotment site. The allotment includes several shelters, toilets and a kitchen plus large two polytunnels to see us through the rain and cooler months.”
“Seasonal activities include sowing, planting, harvesting, fruit picking, foraging, natural craft activities, pond dipping and bug hunting. The sessions are delivered by qualified early years / family workers, alongside our wonderful volunteers.”
“Although some parents voiced initial concern about how contact would work on the allotment site, this was soon overcome after the first session. There have also been parental reservations about children taking home some of their finds, mostly spiders, worms and other creepy crawlies!! All children are kindly asked to return their new ‘pets’ to their natural habitat before leaving.”
Children and the outdoors are a great combination and the benefits to mental health and wellbeing are well evidenced. This innovative way of working really encourages relationships to flourish as children and parents try new activities together, get messy, have fun and strengthen their bond within a therapeutic environment.
“We have seen some great outcomes for children over the past few months, as they re-connect with a parent they don’t live with and relationships have unique opportunities to bloom. Jack* age 8, hadn’t seen his father in almost 3 years when he attended his first contact session at the allotment. Jack initially blanked dad and explored the allotment activities independently. The relationship has really improved over the weeks especially when Jack, in his explorations pulled the water feed pipe out, causing a fierce waterfall! With water spraying everywhere Dad and Jack worked together to stem the water and solve the problem. As they managed this, there were high fives, well dones and hugs.”
“At the end of the session Jack told mum ‘Me and dad worked as a team together to stop the flood. It was so much fun!’ Dad told us ‘Today my son called me dad for the first time’”
Find out more at www.leapcfc.org.uk