Supporting Communities Together




Green fingered volunteers are having a great “thyme” developing their skills at Firthmoor Community Centre in Darlington while helping others in need.


Step Forward Tees Valley, an employment scheme funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund, run a weekly garden club for participants, thanks to Firthmoor Community Centre’s kind donation of garden space and equipment.


Step Forward Tees Valley offers support to local people who are facing barriers that are preventing them from moving forward into work, training and education, including mental ill health, low confidence, lengthy gaps of unemployment, addiction, convictions and financial problems.


Members have had such success growing pumpkins, beans, peas, lettuces, potatoes, onions and broccoli that they have begun donating their produce to Firthmoor Community Centre Foodbank.


Glenis, Chief Officer of Firthmoor Community Centre said “The garden club has brought people from all walks of life together to benefit a common cause. Working with Step Forward Tees Valley has given local people the chance to learn new skills and give something back to their community by growing food for our foodbank. We’re certainly “rooting” for everybody involved to go on to great things! Our nursery children are also benefitting from the gardens by seeing how vegetables grow and learning about their nutritional values”.  


Chris, who has been attending the garden club for the last few months says “The group has helped me a lot. It gets me out of the house and gives me something to focus on”.


Sue, who volunteers at Firthmoor Community Centre says “I find gardening therapeutic, it allows me to regain my thoughts and it’s nice to share knowledge and achievements together”.


Helen Collins, Step Forward Tees Valley programme manager, said: “I think this is a lovely example of how Step Forward Tees Valley supports participants to overcome barriers, such as low confidence, and at the same time provides an opportunity to give something back to their local community. Participants are also encouraged to develop their knowledge and skills to improve the chance of securing training and employment longer term. Thanks to all involved"!


Step Forward Tees Valley is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.


To find out more about Step Forward Tees Valley call 01325 529210, visit or find us on facebook and twitter.



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