Young volunteers from the Prince’s Trust have been helping to transform a historic Hastings greenhouse as part of a project to prepare them for the world of work.
The 10 volunteers, all aged 16 to 25, tidied up the land, trimming hedges as well as clearing rubble and green waste surrounding Alexandra Park’s greenhouse.
The youngsters who are currently not in education, employment or training were led by Helen Bowler and Amy Kilpatrick of Sussex Coast College during the three-week project, which ended on Thursday, June 1.
Ms Bowler said: “The Prince’s Trust programme is a 14-week personal development course and, at the end of it, the volunteers receive a nationally recognised qualification in employment, team work and community skills.
The team was helped by Police Sgt Kendal Wells, from Hailsham, who is training to be an inspector with the College of Policing Fast Track Programme. He volunteered to work the Trust for 20 days.
The volunteers loaded rubble into sacks which were taken away by a waste disposal company, levelled terraces at the rear of the greenhouse, weeded borders, and pruned hedges and plants.
Helen said volunteers, drawn from the Hastings and Rother area, worked five days a week while doing the course. Trust staff also helped them to find work placements and prepared them for job interviews.
Volunteers included 18-year-old Mercedes St Croix who said: “I live in this area and it’s nice to help the community. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.
“I want to able find a job; something that I enjoy. I would not mind doing some gardening because I enjoy it.”
Another volunteer James Stead, 21, – who comes from Surrey but is staying with his aunt in the Hastings area – said: “My aunt found this course and she thought it would be a perfect opportunity for me.
“I am enjoying this. I haven’t done anything like this in a long time.”
The volunteer’s work comes as part of a wider project by the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group, which aims to turn the 1930s structure into a centre for community and horticultural activities.
The Trust’s work helped prepare the site for the next step of the restoration scheme, while blacksmiths from the Over Wrought Forge in Hastings are currently cleaning and restoring the greenhouse’s cast iron and steel parts, thanks to an £8,000 grant from Tesco’s.
The greenhouse group will have a stall on Saturday (June 10) at Imagine Nation’s Read and Play Day on Hastings Pier from 10am to 3pm. The free event is aimed at the under-fives and will include story-telling, drama, a book swap, yoga for children and singing.
Imagine Nation is a local charity providing books to pre-school children in the Hastings area. Further details from www.hastingspier.org.uk or telephone 01424 445566.
Photo by Colin Foy.