A GARDEN project which aims to end the stigma surrounding addiction is growing.

Roots to Recovery in the east end helps people facing tough challenges in their lives as a result of drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.

It was set up around eight months ago to give people who use Addaction’s North East Recovery Hub in the Calton a chance to get involved in community growing.

Co-ordinator Georgie McConnell explains: “We believe access to green space is vital for health and well being, and the recognised benefits of community gardening are life enhancing and incredibly therapeutic.

“We are in the early days of the project and can’t wait to expand our growing space, put on community events and work closely with our valued partners. We are sowing the seeds of recovery.”

Bringing people together to build and strengthen communities is at the heart of the Evening Times Streets Ahead campaign, backed by our generous partners Glasgow City Council, City Building and City Charitable Trust.

We are now in our ninth year of the initiative, which has gone from strength to strength.

Each month, we will be showcasing some of the best projects and groups working hard to make Glasgow a better place to live, work and play and at the end of the year, we will highlight the best in our annual awards ceremony.

Roots to Recovery is a fantastic example of what Streets Ahead is all about.

The project has made a huge difference to the Calton community. It is co-produced with people who have lived with addiction and mental health issues, as Tracy Morrice, service manager at the North East Recovery Hub, explains.

“The motivation and commitment from those involved are unlike anything I have ever seen before,” she says.

“They attend weekly planning meetings, community engagement events and gardening slots, no matter what the weather is like, no matter what is going on in their own lives.

“Georgie, who leads the group, is the most positive person I know - she truly puts the needs of the Roots to Recovery group before her own.”

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Recently, the team got together at the community garden site on Elcho Gardens to install three more raised beds and some barrel planters. They have been able to plant and harvest a range of produce over the last few months, including onions, bettroot, radishes and salad leaves.

As well as helping participants to learn new gardening skills, the group has created a number of positive links with other groups in the community - vital in helping to overturn the stigma often associated with addiction.

Georgie adds: “Roots to Recovery is working in partnership with the Calton Heritage Centre, Green Volunteers and the wider Calton community at Elcho Gardens.

“We wanted to give people who use the North East Recovery Hub the chance to benefit from a green space.

“We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work at, and develop the existing site at Elcho Gardens and help realise its fantastic potential.”

The activity was part of the Volunteering Matters Action Earth campaign. Grant funding for the campaign is provided by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Volunteering Matters Action Earth will be supporting around 170 projects in Scotland in 2019 with grant awards of up to £500.

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These grants are aimed at groups who support and encourage volunteer activity through practical environmental projects.

Georgie is keen to let as many people as possible know about the community work being done for people in recovery in the east end of Glasgow.

“Everybody can get involved in their local outdoor spaces,” she says.

“They are a shared resource and a shared responsibility. From the smallest individual action to a national campaign, every contribution helps.

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“The Volunteering Matters Action Earth grants are designed to help groups of volunteers take practical action to improve and create places for wildlife.”

If you have a great idea for a project call the Volunteering Matters Action Earth team on 07808 860356 or register at www.volunteeringmatters.org.uk/actionearth

And tell us about it too - Streets Ahead has helped to kick start countless projects with grant funding since we launched our community campaign in 2011. Email ann.fotheringham@heraldandtimes.co.uk to find out more and to receive a copy of the grant application form.