Universities are often lucky enough to enjoy large grounds and remain some of the best green spaces in our communities. The University of York St Johns decided to harness this benefit for the good of local sanctuary seekers.
The spaces are ordinarily reserved for staff of the university, but offering one plot for others who might benefit is just one of the many ways they have developed a culture of welcome. Research shows that community growing can impact positively on physical and mental wellbeing.
Not only is horticulture an area of knowledge where people from different cultures can learn from each other, it also encourages regular exercise and facilitates healthier eating. It also provides meaningful activity for people who, due to their status as an asylum seeker, might not be able to work.
Mental stress and social isolation is often a big factor for asylum seekers; but gardening can be very therapeutic and provides a chance to meet new people, or alternatively, to get some peace and quiet.
In addition, grounds staff at the university have agreed to job shadowing opportunities with the local refugee support organisation which will also help people to learn new skills and improve job prospects.