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Suffolk Community Garden Volunteers - Winner of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2014

04 June 2014

A huge well done to the volunteers from Suffolk Community Garden who have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the outstanding contribution made by their volunteers.

Sandra Adair, Volunteer Now Enterprises Ltd asked their Project Coordinator, Caroline Murphy, about what the volunteers actually did and what winning the Award meant to them. Here is what she said.....

“Suffolk Community Forum is the representative body for the many groups which exist within the Suffolk Estate.  Its mission is to ‘work towards creating a stable, secure, confident community in Suffolk’. Since 2011, Suffolk Community Garden which was built by volunteers has formed the core of a major health, well-being and employability project.  The garden has won many awards where its volunteers have been recognised but the Queen’s Award is the pinnacle of our achievements.

Without our volunteers this project would never have succeeded.  Despite Belfast City Council installing the basic infrastructure, without the volunteers the garden would never have been built much less have gone from strength to strength in the years since. The contribution of our volunteers should not be seen solely in relation to maintaining the garden and growing fresh fruit and vegetables for the local community. On the contrary, our volunteers welcome schools visits where they design sessions and work with the children; assist the After-schools children growing vegetables for the ‘Come Dine with Us’ Project and supervise work placements and look after our hens, ensuring they are plump, healthy and continue to lay free range eggs for the community.   Importantly, the volunteers are great role models and lead the way for others to take up the horticultural training that’s on offer.

The project has been developed and maintained on a shoestring budget so not only is the Award an enormous honour in itself but we are hoping that it will also assist us in attracting further funding that will enable us to progress the project and its benefits.  Moreover, we are also confident that it may inspire others to see the value of volunteering.”

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