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Volunteer-run allotment bears fruit for Macclesfield’s older community

Older people in Macclesfield are benefitting from the hard work of the town’s green-fingered volunteers, thanks to a sustainable gardening project designed to help local people.

Those residing at dementia specialist, Belong, have been delighting in the horticultural expertise and the gardening outputs of Grow Macclesfield, an open allotment for volunteers to cultivate fruit, vegetables, and plants, for the good of everyone.

The project’s founder, Alex Eifflaender, paid Belong’s residents and apartment tenants a visit to share a fascinating insight of her personal experience living in Peru’s rainforest, before lending her knowledge and skills to support participants in making autumn wreaths out of plants and flowers from the allotment.

Speaking of her participation, Audrey Meecham, tenant at Belong Macclesfield’s independent living apartments, said: “The autumn wreath-making was a stimulating activity which everyone enjoyed. It was good to have a finished decoration to show for our efforts at the end of it and I really appreciated the chance to have a go at doing something different.”

Belong Macclesfield welcomed Alex as part of its ethos of promoting the wellbeing of its customers through meaningful occupation in line with their interests, choosing the organisation for sharing its values in community, integration and belonging.

Alex Eifflaender, founder of Grow Macclesfield, commented: “Our philosophy is to encourage integration and we take pride in including everyone as equal and valued parts of a vibrant community, and this also extends to those who can’t join us directly at the allotment. So, we are pleased to share with Belong Macclesfield customers the fruit of our labour which has enabled them to be part of the project, too.”

Anna Seaton, experience coordinator at Belong Macclesfield, also added: “It’s been a pleasure welcoming Alex, and everyone has thoroughly enjoyed hearing about her experiences living with an Amazonian tribe and how it inspired Grow Macclesfield. 

“The wreath-making provided a hands-on learning opportunity for our customers to gain a new skill and a sense of achievement. Alex’s work is underpinned by promoting neighbourly values, and it’s great that this includes everyone at the village.”

The session is the latest activity in the village’s experiences programme. Other events have included both animal and music therapy, visiting entertainers, and shared intergenerational workshops with local schools. A new monthly dementia café has also launched for non-residents and their carers in the wider area. B’s Café is a complimentary community support service for those living with dementia, offering an activity and warm welcome for all attendees.

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