Garden visit highlights Learning Disability Week

Mr Dey met with Project Development Manager Caroline GrayMr Dey met with Project Development Manager Caroline Gray
Mr Dey met with Project Development Manager Caroline Gray
Angus South MSP Graeme Dey recently visited the Hope Organic Garden and SAPALD to highlight Learning Disability Week.

The event is organised every year by the learning disability charity, Mencap. It aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with learning disabilities by raising awareness about important issues, fighting stigma and discrimination, and raising funds for outreach and support programs.

HOPE is a charitable trust established in 1994 by Cedric de Voil, a local GP, who saw the benefits of gardening for people with learning disabilities.

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For more than 25 years, the garden has grown organically, thanks to support from the local community. HOPE continues to welcome trainees every year offering individuals support and mentoring. HOPE activities include all aspects of growing fruit and vegetables organically, from sowing to harvesting and selling to the community.

Their trainees enjoy working in a safe environment supported by staff and volunteers and, circumstances permitting, they attend the garden one or two mornings per week where they work either individually or in small groups. Some trainees even have their own personal garden area.

During his visit, Mr Dey met with Project Development Manager Caroline Gray and some of the trainees about the support offered by the organisation. He then met with several Trustees of South Angus Parents of Adults with Learning Disabilities (SAPALD) for a planning session to support the charity’s expansion across Angus.

South Angus Parents of Adults with Learning Disabilities (SAPALD) are a registered charity that was formed by a group of parents to ensure that their adults with learning disabilities are provided with suitable locally supported residential housing, local residential respite short break facilities, and social events. A positive and worthwhile session concluded with the agreement that SAPALD would continue working with both the Angus Health and Social Care Partnership, Angus Carers Centre, and other local organisations to help identify the parent carers of adults with learning disabilities, and support their introduction to the support to which they are entitled.

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Mr Dey said: “There are over 125,000 people with learning disabilities living in Scotland, and raising awareness provides an opportunity to change attitudes, making Scotland a better, fairer and more equal place for everyone.

"It was a pleasure to meet with Caroline and catch up about Hope’s great work. They structure their gardening programmes at the appropriate level for each trainee which helps develop the trainee’s self-esteem, confidence and skills, which has a very positive effect on well-being. I was particularly pleased to hear Hope recently received funding from Empower Angus Community Foundation which distributes a share of profits from renewable energy projects invested by Empower Community.

“I was also pleased to have the opportunity to catch up with the SAPALD team for the first time since the pandemic. It was interesting to hear about the future plans they have to expand their support for local people with learning disabilities.”

Ms Gray said: “Hope has an important place in the lives of our trainees, volunteers and staff, we aim to offer horticultural training and work experience as well as social opportunities for adults with Learning difficulties in Angus. We are also able to supply our local community with a source of organically grown seasonal fruit and vegetables. It’s a great project that reflects the hard work of the Trainees, Volunteers, Staff and Trustees”

Caroline Petrie, SAPALD’s secretary, added: “This was a positive and constructive meeting, and we are grateful to Graeme for his continued positive support for SAPAD, and carers in South Angus.”

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