Student wins Dean’s Commendation for ‘exceptionally positive contribution to the community’
Hester Pelly, a Youth & Community Work student, completed a work placement at Growing for Life, the Paignton-based therapeutic horticultural project that provides training for a broad range of socially excluded adults.
Hester said: “The placement was a great opportunity to be involved working within the Care Farm model, known to help improve social skills, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual health and general wellbeing for all involved.
“The placement enabled me to explore my interest in building community through growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating together, thereby enabling participants to experience personal and communal nourishment. It feels good to have my hard work, with the support of my supervisor Sarah Cracknell, recognised by the University of St Mark & St John.”
Presenting the award, the Dean of Faculty of Education & Social Sciences, Dr Ian Luke, said Hester “embraced and epitomised the values of the University, putting her heart and soul into her work and had contributed a great positive influence on society in the community.”
Dr Susan Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Childhood, Youth and Community at the University nominated Hester for the award. She said: “Hester recognised the opportunities and the challenges in the innovative community-based project. She worked closely with the project management team, supporting them during a time of transition, to develop and deliver a new strategy and direction. She worked with respect for the managers, volunteers and service users, working to empower those around her. This took a considerable amount of time, commitment, resourcefulness and dedication”
Hester enlisted the support of local celebrated chef Jane Baxter as well as chef Rob Andrew, who generously offered their time, support and advice regarding cooking and its relationship to growing.
Community minded consultant grower/ gardener and educationalist Darren Mclane and the poly tunnel growing team at Riverford Organic Farmers also donated their time and expertise to help Growing for Life develop a planting plan.
The final ‘product’ of her placement was the Growing For Life Recipe Book, created and illustrated by the group. Dr Cooper added: “Hester’s work created a positive lasting legacy at the project, and an enhanced sense of achievement by all those involved.”
Sarah Cracknell, Growing for Life Project Manager said: “Hester was a great asset to the Project during her placement here. Her enthusiasm and skills enabled vulnerable and socially excluded people to learn about the food they eat and experience wild cooking over a fire pit.”
Growing for Life is a therapeutic horticultural project in Torbay managed by the Shekinah Mission. It supports Jobseekers and the long-term unemployed, offenders and ex-offenders, people in drug and alcohol recovery, people with mental health issues and those with mild disabilities and or learning disabilities.
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