Rake Up and Grow in B&NES celebrates placement success

Rake Up and Grow, the community gardening service run by people with different abilities in Bath and North East Somerset, is celebrating success after one of its trainees, Ben Clifford, gained a paid apprenticeship after only a year with the scheme.

The service delivers real contracts to organisations across the Bath area and aims to help people with different abilities develop confidence and learn new skills while improving outdoor areas across the city.

While many volunteers have completed college courses, the Rake Up and Grow scheme allows them to develop work base and horticultural skills and to use machinery in real life settings.  The service works hand-in-hand with colleges to develop work experience which goes alongside qualifications. The service is always open to new adults at all levels.

The team, made up of 14 trainees, looks after the grounds at some five sites in the Bath area including Hayesfield School, Cleeve Court, Carrswood, Poolemead House and Charlton House, Keynsham.

Ben had worked with Rake Up and Grow (RUAG) developing skills and delivering real contracts for 12 months and is now moving on to a paid apprenticeship with local gardening company Eden Landscapes.  He is working towards a level 2 diploma in work based horticulture.

Sally Heselton, who set up and runs the Rake Up and Grow scheme, said, “We’re so very pleased that after a year with us, Ben has been able to learn so much and will be using the skills and knowledge he’s learnt with us in his new role.”

Ben, who recently took up his new job, said, ”I really enjoyed the time I spent with RUAG and thank them for giving me the opportunity. It has helped me with my confidence, enabled me to learn new skills and to gain practical experience which I hope to continue to put to good use and develop my knowledge of horticulture.

“I am particularly enjoying being outdoors doing a variety of work based tasks, learning new skills and continuing to put into practice some of the skills I learnt with RUAG.”

Supporting Ben’s successful application for the apprenticeship was a video of him demonstrating his hedging skills in the grounds of Poolemead House where the charity Action on Hearing Loss is based.

Roy Woods, Action on Hearing Loss Head of Services, said, “Ben and his colleagues have supported our charity to maintain our excellent horticulture standards here at Poolemead. We are delighted that we can indirectly support people like Ben to work towards their aspirational goals and seek genuine employment within a very competitive market place. We look forward to our continued and developing relationship with Rake Up and Grow.”

Rake Up and Grow is one of a number of services overseen by Virgin Care as part of the Bath and North East Somerset Health and Care Services which it runs on behalf of the local council and CCG. Rake up and Grow launched in 2004 and Sally, who runs the scheme, is a former lecturer in horticulture.

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