The Memory Garden Project

THIS summer a group of eight young adults embarked on a journey of personal development and team-based participation. Comfort zones have been tested and friendships have flourished. This exploration of individual progression has taken place whilst applying themselves to the National Citizen Service (NCS) with Argyle Community Trust.

NCS is a fabulous opportunity for young people to learn valuable and transferable skills. These skills can be applied not only within future education, but also when they venture into employment. Our team, based at Carn Brea, have grasped this opportunity with both hands and applied themselves throughout this adventure

The first week of the programme consisted of adrenaline-fuelled excitement and an array of extreme activities. This not only took individuals to their limits, it also encouraged the development of strong internal team relationships and promoted communication. This was highlighted through the process of reflection, which is at the core of NCS.

The team quickly identified that working cohesively and supporting each other was essential to both success and enjoyment. The confidence continued to grow within the team throughout the first week. There was a noticeably positive change within individuals and collectively. This positivity was taken into the second week of residential and everyone was excited to get started.

The focus then shifted to identifying opportunities and obtaining new skills. Through their new-found friendships, groups worked closely to highlight vision statements and collective aspirations. Workshops were delivered on a variety of subjects including CV writing and public speaking.

However, the highlight of the week was ‘The Paper Clip Challenge’, an activity that required effective communication and negotiation. The teams were required to negotiate deals to trade the paperclip for more valuable items. Astonishingly, they walked away with an assortment of treasures, including £40 sunglasses and a Jimmy Choo handbag.

When reflecting on their experience, it was highlighted that roles and responsibilities were essential when working towards a common goal. The team brainstormed various ideas and concepts for their social action project. It was clear to see that they were becoming more cohesive and a clear vision gave them purpose. They were now ready to move on to their planning and preparation stage. Their ambition was to deliver a valuable and community-led social action project.

Through the planning and preparation stage of the project, the team learnt about the value of failure and perseverance. The foundation of their social action project was built on the idea of helping the older generation. They wanted to show that, as younger people, they still value and respect their elders.

The perception that certain older members of the community are forgotten when placed in care homes was the golden thread that brought them together. This collective vision subsequently brought about the initial stages of ‘The Memory Garden Project’. To generate a safe and vibrant place that would bring comfort and joy to residents. A location where family and friends could visit and re-live all those fond and cherished memories.

The team found a very willing and grateful partner in St Martins Care Home in Camborne. This local care home takes immense pride in their work and does an amazing job caring for its residents. However, a communal area situated in the centre of the building, was in need of some TLC. St Martins looks after patients that have Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and this resonated with the team on a personal level.

The team worked incredibly hard raising money in their planning stage and generated a staggering £613. Their aim was to regenerate the communal area and give something back to an establishment that does so much. Although the money raised enabled the team to provide various practical items, such as storage space, seated arbours and decorative hanging baskets, the most significant donation was their determination and hard work.

Craig Tanner – Team Leader said: “It has been a privilege to watch this group of individuals develop and challenge themselves. The change within the team has been truly inspiring. They have worked incredibly hard to make this happen and to see their faces on completion was a proud moment. I wish them the best of luck in their future aspirations and can’t wait to see them graduate in October.”

This hard work has also been recognised by the local community and more specifically the local MP. George Eustice visited St Martins to show his appreciation of the brilliant work undertaken. The team radiated with pride and spoke enthusiastically about the work they had done. This was backed up by glorious praise given to the team regularly by both staff and residents at St Martin.

John Bulley St Martins (Cornwall Care) said: “We are so very grateful that the NCS team came around and regenerated one of our Gardens at St Martins Residential Home. It has been a huge relief, and our residents very much appreciate what they have done for them and our staff.

It was great to see the residents take in what was happening, we at St Martins from Staff to residents and Visitors were overwhelmed by the work ethos from your young people and staff who came here from raising the money to organising the work and behaving like grown-ups, and being 100% professional at all times.”

The team have now completed their National Citizen Service programme and are now moving on to future endeavours. They have developed as people and obtained valuable life skills to take forward. They have worked incredibly hard and Argyle Community Trust wish them all the best.

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