Gardening — An Observers Perspective!

Sitting in the sun watching three men laughing and sweating in the heat as they remove weeds and debris from the EARTH project community garden this afternoon, I couldn’t help think how far each has developed since the start of their involvement with Crossroads Trust. Each has struggled, for various reasons since joining us and two are now fully fledged Peer Mentors in their own right, they have completed training and have even delivered training to others. I regard their achievements with pride.

To encourage, to work as equals and to consider them non judgmentally has been easy, obvious and a pleasure. This stance, coupled with a peer mentoring approach, has enabled them to feel that they are part of our community, part of something worth while and appears to have cemented their commitment further in terms of leading a law abiding, positive life in our community. Peer mentoring works because they know they are working with others who have walked in the same shoes, who know where they have been, how that has impacted on them and how it is possible to put that behind and to move forward — with alacrity!

They are joined today by a new Crossroads Trust client and already I can see him respond positively to being included, chatting away to the other men and starting to relax, cigarette dangling as he too tackles the triffid like weeds. Which chilli seeds to plant in the greenhouse next season? which burn the tastebuds hardest? which make the best chilli con carne? All questions asked of each other as they discuss their favourite plants, and what they would like to achieve in this Crossroads Trust garden.

Not everyone in the community favours our notion of peer mentoring, not all will accept readily individuals with convictions working alongside non convicted community members with the same goal, to include, to reintegrate and to resettle. But it works!

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