A new volunteer placement has given All Saint Vicarage’s Liam the opportunity to show and develop his gardening skills.

The New Dawn Community Allotment is a food and enterprise initiative run by local businesses and the local authority in Hetton-le-Hole, close to Liam’s home.

Liam is helping tend the grounds, plant vegetables and maintain the pathways. He’s also hoping to use his artistic flair to paint the allotment fences this summer.

Service Manager Matthew Bell has shared how Liam is making terrific progress in learning new skills and getting back out into the world now lockdown is over.

Matthew said: “Liam has done amazingly well.

“He loves a challenge, and getting stuck in at the allotments has been the perfect opportunity for Liam.

“Just before the pandemic began, Liam had such a busy life full of activities every day. Overnight, it all disappeared, and I was worried about how Liam would cope.

“However, he’s done so well to cope, and now the world is opening up again, he’s thrown himself into this work and got back out there.”

As well as making a difference at the New Dawn Community Allotment, Liam is also using his new skills back at All Saints Vicarage.

Liam and other people supported at the service are helping to create and cultivate an allotment in the grounds, where they can grow their own vegetables and plants.

The plan is to use their produce in home-cooked meals and sell on some of the plants and flowers they grow.

Matthew said: “We are breaking down all these tasks into small steps that each of the people we support can get involved with at every step.

“For example, if Liam wants to grow some flowers to sell, we support him to choose the flower, go to buy the seeds, nurture it, make a poster to say it’s on sale, get it ready to go and then make the transaction.

“We’re doing the same with our cards and crafts. The intention is to engage the people we support to use different skill sets across these tasks and empower them.

“For families, it’s lovely to be able to receive a card or a gift that’s homemade by their loved one. It’s so much more meaningful than a shop-bought item.”