Video: MP visits charity’s allotments for anniversary celebrations

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For the last 10 years a community project has helped to transform the lives of hundreds of people – at an allotment in Burngreave.

Sage Greenfingers provides gardening therapy for people with mental health problems and other disabilities at its allotment on Grimesthorpe Road.

Willow Weaving, the Sage Allotments at Shiregreen which are celebrating their 10th anniversary

Willow Weaving, the Sage Allotments at Shiregreen which are celebrating their 10th anniversary

Over the last decade more than 350 people have been helped by taking part in sessions to transform five allotments into a garden area.

And now plans are in place to expand the charity’s services.

Diana Tottle, Sage Greenfingers director, said: “Over the last 10 years we have created an oasis in the heart of Burngreave where people can switch off from their troubles by getting stuck into gardening and art activities.

“There are four sessions a week. At the start we come together for a chat and a drink and plan the day, we do various activities, and at the end we all come together for a meal.

“When people have serious mental health problems they go into themselves. The biggest step is getting them here, and continuing that when they know they are going to be meeting people they haven’t met before. We pride ourselves on going out and bringing people here for the first time.

“We help people with a wide range of problems. There is one lady who was scared of going on buses. She now takes two buses to get here and is starting to think she may be able to use buses to get to other places. She is also starting to grow vegetables for her family.”

Sage Greenfingers was set up at Pitsmoor Surgery in 1996 and moved to its current site in 2004.

Diana said the charity’s current funding runs out at the end of the year and it is hoped an application to the Big Lottery could secure its future for a further five years.

There are also plans to expand the arts and singing sessions so more activities can be offered during the winter, when work on the allotment is limited.

Diana added: “We are also going to be developing a training programme for other organisations and services.

“A lot of them have garden space but it’s just lawn and they are coming to us for help in setting up a similar project.”

David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, visited the project to join in with the anniversary celebrations. Members took part in activities including weaving fish from willow twigs and creating portraits from fruit and veg.

Mr Blunkett, who is the patron of Thrive, a charity that promotes horticultural therapy as a means of addressing mental and physical health needs in a holistic fashion, said: “Horticulture is something people should get satisfaction and pleasure from, seeing something grow, being able to use it, making it possible to eat better and more cheaply, and being able to meet and work with others.

“The greatest therapy of all is to meet, talk and be with people to overcome loneliness, to be able to share challenges and know that other people have been through difficulties in their lives and have been able to come through the other end and help others themselves.”

Anyone interested in helping at the project can visit www.sagesheffield.org.uk for further details.