A £30,000 from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys will fund the new Thrive programme in Kings Heath Park, Birmingham and Saltwell Park, Gateshead. Called Grow and Learn, the practical training programme will help 16- to 19-year-olds develop personal and life skills, improve their work skills and in-work etiquette and allows them to study a City & Guilds qualification in horticulture (Level 1 Practical Horticulture skills or Level 1 in Work-Based Horticulture depending on ability).
Thrive's team will work with 14 students once a week for up to two years. Students undertake classroom-based work, develop practical gardening skills and learn about healthy living and lifestyles. The programme, which has already been successful at Thrive in London and Reading, will help students develop confidence and self-esteem.
Students are encouraged to be part of the decision-making process about running the project. Initially this is with support from Thrive, but as they become more confident, they take more independent decision-making responsibility.
Thrive's horticultural therapists will work with students and their support team to establish individual needs and aspirations, then create Individual Development Programmes (IDPs) to ensure outcomes are achieved.
Individual support needs and IDP goals are embedded into activities to help students work towards personal and work-related goals. These IDPs support and complement school/college based Learning Plans. Several teachers have reported an increase in student's participation in other activities as their confidence grows.