Teen volunteers dig deep to help in Killingbeck

A team of green-fingered teenagers helped transform allotments in Killingbeck this week.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 4:29 pm
Volunteers tending one of the plots at Killingbeck Allotment Association. Picture: Jess Duggal
Volunteers tending one of the plots at Killingbeck Allotment Association. Picture: Jess Duggal

Young people from the National Citizen Service cleared overgrown plots, weeded and painted sheds at Killingbeck Allotment Association on Monday as part of a charity partnership.

The teenagers are raising money for Clarion Futures, which helped create the allotments along with the community around five years ago.

The futures programme, which is the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, exists to provide people with the tools and support they need to overcome their challenges. It aims to transform lives and communities for the better.

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A group of National Citizenship Service volunteers have been transforming allotments in Killingbeck. Picture: Jess Duggal.

Jess Duggal, neighbourhood investment officer (North) for Clarion Futures Communities, said: “We have partnered with the National Citizens Service. Volunteers aged between 16 and 17 are helping us bring those plots back into a state where the Killingbeck Allotment Association can advertise those plots to the local community to get them allocated again.

“The allotments allow our residents young and old to grow their own produce and they then share them with the local community.”

There are 11 plots but three of them are vacant and in need of restoration.

The joint partnership revamped vacant plots for five hours on Monday.

Young volunteers help paint a shed at Killingbeck Allotment Association.

The volunteers are raising funds for Clairion Futures as part of a wider campaign against homelessness and the housing crisis. One of the volunteers is Akleem Mohammad, 16. He said: “We are campaigning for the homeless and against the housing crisis, which is what Clarion is working with as well.”

He said the group of volunteers had met with Clarion recently and asked them what they could do for them. Akleem added: “Some of the allotments are overgrown. Our group thought ‘why not help the community by cutting it down to make it easier for them to make more crops and flower beds?’. We are also painting some sheds for them.”

So far the young people have raised £200 for Clarion by telling family and friends about their cause. And earlier this week they were fundraising in Leeds city centre. The NCS activities in Leeds are overseen by The Challenge.

Kim Birch, who has been involved in Killingbeck Allotment Association since the beginning, applauded the teenagers’ commitment. “It’s great that they are willing to get stuck in and do what can be quite hard work,” he said.

A group of NCS volunteers during their work day in Killingbeck.

Mr Birch was the allotment group’s first chairman. It is linked to Killingbeck Community Project where young and old work together to provide a productive hub of fruits, foods and flowers.

There were allotments there in the 1960s but these became overgrown. Clarion arranged for contractors to clear the site. Plots were marked out and then the community mucked in by preparing the ground. An orchard was also planted at the other end of the estate.

One of the allotments plots has always been dedicated to community use. Mr Birch estimates between 100 and 150 people have been involved with the allotments and orchards since its inception and lots of children have befitted from the project.

He added: “Obviously it’s the healthy exercise and the fresh air.

“There is also the tasty fruit and veg which you grow. Then there is the social aspect of it, which I think is important.”

EVENT

Youngsters on Clarion’s other estate in Leeds will be tackling turf-related activities of a different kind.

The Sutton Park Estate is hosting a community football event on Wednesday,July 24 at its multi-use games area.

The tournament has been organised by Clarion’s youth ambassadors and will be delivered in partnership with Leeds United Kicks programme.

Jess Duggal, neighbourhood investment officer (North) for Clarion Futures Communities, said: “Our youth ambassadors on Sutton Park Estate identified that we do have various groups on the estate that don’t really connect.

“We have different young people from various cultures and backgrounds and there was no real mix. So they wanted a bit of cohesion there.

“The idea behind the tournament is to bring various young people from different backgrounds together for them to make friends with other young people on the estate.”

Mr Duggal said the tournament would feature teams around the local community and not just the estate. Another feature of the event is that it will help in the fight against holiday hunger. Mr Duggal said: “We are also working with the Youth Association who will be helping to run the tournament and will be providing food on the day as part of their Eat on the Street project, helping those who would normally have school dinners to eat.”