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West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion has funded a garden project in Shropshire that is aiming to change negative perceptions around young people by enabling them to volunteer their time.

The young people of the Sandpits/Rockspring estate in Ludlow often have little to do, particularly during the summer months, so they started volunteering to help people who cannot physically manage their own gardens. The volunteers, aged between 10 and 18 years-old, have given up their time to help the elderly and those with disabilities keep their gardens looking as pretty as they once kept them.

The Rockspring Garden Project stemmed from an idea the South Shropshire Youth Forum came up with in 2013. After being asked what concerned them, it was felt that some community members had a negative opinion of their age group – which they were keen to change.

Over the past four years, the project has enlisted over 30 young people and helped dozens of local residents with their gardens. Tasks have included grass cutting, strimming, weeding, removing rocks and slabs and making repairs to fences.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I’m proud of the contribution these young people are making to our society. By investing in projects like this, and giving young people the opportunity to develop into active citizens, means that they are more likely to stay engaged and be inspired to help others in the future.”

Richard Morley, Youth Manager for the South Shropshire Youth Forum, said: “We’re extremely grateful that the Commissioner has stepped in this year to allow the project to continue. The project, and the youth forum, gives the young people a sense of belonging and has empowered them to find solutions. It’s also been great to see all communities come together because of these practical sessions.”

Issued: Wednesday 6 September