Midlothian Growing Together

Sadly our Midlothian Growing Together project will be coming to an end in March 2018.  The project began back in May 2013, with our current Gardening Coordinator, Kat Dunlop taking post in 2014.  Based within the ground of Dalkeith Country Park (across from St Mary’s Church), the Community Garden has been developed, maintained, and enjoyed by many thanks to the hard work and of Kat and a team of volunteers over the years.  The project has had a particular focus on supporting young people and those experiencing mental health difficulties by offering informal, practical and therapeutic volunteering sessions.

The good news is that the project will continue to offer volunteering sessions on Friday mornings (from 10.30 – 12 and 12 – 1.30) right up until the end of March, and we are actively looking for more volunteers to get involved until then.  Sessions are great for those who have a keen interest in gardening, want to use existing skills or to learn new skills.  With an informal approach there is no pressure to attend every week so sessions are good for those who are wary or unable to make a regular commitment.  No experience is necessary and there are tasks to suit all abilities. All training, protective clothing and break time refreshments with be provided!! Come along, meet new people, help improve your community and learn new skills.

In addition to looking for individual volunteers, as group session in the garden for staff and volunteer goups provides a great team building opportunity and we would be happy to accommodate this.

Beyond the end of March, Keith Barbour (Youth Support Coordinator) will continue to deliver a limited number of sessions within the Community Garden with small groups of young volunteers, and we are currently exploring opportunities for other organisations/groups to share responsibility for maintaining and developing the garden.  If you know of a group who might be interested or would like further information about Midlothian Growing Together, please contact Karen Downie, Head of Service – Transform on 0131 660 1216 or email Karen@volunteermidlothian.org.uk

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Volunteering FAQ

Why get involved as a volunteer?

People volunteer for many different reasons. Making a difference to the lives of others is immensely rewarding, but the benefits don’t stop there. Volunteering can give you the skills and confidence you need to get into work, climb the career ladder or expand your circle of friends.

Who can be a volunteer?

Anyone can contribute. For most of the work no experience is required – just a willingness to get involved and help. Training is usually provided for more involved volunteer roles.

What commitment do I have to make?

The time commitment you make to volunteering depends largely on the type of work you are interested in. Some organisations ask for a few hours per month; others a few days a week. It is usually up to you and the organisation involved to arrange suitable times for you to work.

Can I volunteer whilst claiming benefits?

Yes. You can volunteer for as many hours as you want, as long as you still meet the conditions to get your benefit or tax credit. The old rule that you could only volunteer for 16 hours a week or less no longer applies. Any out of pocket expenses you receive will usually be disregarded when it comes to working out your income. We advise that if you are receiving benefits that you let you Job Centre Advisor know before you start volunteering - they may ask you to complete a form which details where you are going to volunteer, how many hours you plan to do and what expenses will be reimbursed.

Will my expenses be paid?

It is good practice for organisations to pay volunteers' expenses to cover things like travel expenses and meal allowances. However not all organisations do, so it is worth checking before you start to volunteer.

I want to work with children or vulnerable people - do I need to join the PVG Scheme?

Volunteering that brings you into contact with children, or with people who are considered vulnerable will require a more stringent selection process which may include Protection of Vulnerable Groups Check. This involves completing a form detailing your previous addresses and provided proof of identity. You will not pay anything for this. Having a criminal conviction or contact with the police does not automatically bar someone from volunteering with children or vulnerable people – but it is worth seeking confidential advice from staff at Volunteer Midlothian before you go any further.

What support does Volunteer Midlothian offer?

Starting volunteering can be a daunting prospect, especially if you have never volunteered before. Our staff will be happy to make the initial contact for you and may be able to come with you on your first visit if you feel that will help. We will also keep in touch with you and the organisation you volunteer with to make sure things are going smoothly. We can also tailor support for those who feel they need a little more help to get started and to maintain their volunteering..