Porthcawl allotment rises from the ashes thanks to volunteers

The community has come together to launch a fight back after arsonists destroyed an allotment for disabled people.

Volunteers re-laid paving and refurbished fire-damaged planting beds at the Porthcawl facility.

The team from United Living, the contractors for Valleys to Coast Housing Association, dug in at the Wilderness Allotments for the UK-wide volunteering Give and Gain day.

Their hard work means stroke victims and adults with learning difficulties can plant new crops to be harvested later this year.

“It was devastating for them. They lost their shed and everything in it,” said contracts manager for United Living Andrew Williams, referring to the December arson attack, which gutted a large shed, damaging specially-adapted tools and a fitted kitchen for the disabled users.

Volunteers go to work on the allotments

“It’s good to give something back to the community,” added Natalie Lecomte , bid manager for United Living.

The £9,000 allotment – one of only two specially-adapted disabled plots in Bridgend county – went up in flames on December 20 after being targeted by arsonists.

It had been created with grant funding and support from public and private-sector partners, including the Welsh Government, Valleys to Coast, Bavo and Bridgend County Borough Council.

On Friday , volunteers re-laid paving slabs which had been damaged by the fierce heat, repaired charred raised beds and also cleared an overgrown plot.

The arson attack

Saulat Abbasi, secretary and treasurer of the Wilderness Allotment Association, which runs the project on Heol y Goedwig, said: “I saw the arson as an attack on the community, but the community has fought back by working in partnership.”

He has allowed adults with learning difficulties, who are helped by the Trinity Care and Support charity and gardener Rachel Legg, to begin growing crops of garlic, onions, butternut squash and other vegetables on his own plot at the Wilderness.

And now the raised beds have been restored, their work can continue and expand.

“It’s hard to find activities they can connect with sometimes, but just being outdoors planting and digging is genuine therapy for them,” said Richard Thomas, Trinity’s business development manager.

He added the budding gardeners not only get to enjoy the fresh air, but also learn new skills, cook with their crops and become more independent.

“I have seen the enjoyment and pleasure on the face of Richard’s service users,” said Saulat.

“We are finally making progress because of the support of Trinity Care and Support, Valleys to Coast and United Living.

“We have ended up being able to do in a day, a week’s worth of work.”

Volunteers, service users and allotment committee members held a celebratory barbecue following the completion of the work.

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/porthcawl-allotment-rises-ashes-thanks-9275364