Learning new skills with Groundwork London at Holland Park

Mark attends Yarrow’s MySpace Greenford day centre, and has recently completed the Groundwork London Eco Fit course at Holland Park. He really enjoyed the experience and wanted to tell us more about it to help spread the word.

The course has been running since 2010. It’s free to attend, and teaches practical nature, conservation and horticulture skills for individuals with physical or learning disabilities and people with long term health conditions. It’s a chance to socialise, spend time outdoors and earn an AQA qualification too.

Mark learning about plants

Mark travelled to the park by bus and train, supported by the staff at MySpace. Although he loves visiting Ravenor Park just near MySpace, he had never been to Holland Park before, and he really liked it straight away.

There were about eight people on the course including Mark, and there were five weekly sessions in total, plus a celebration visit to Kew Gardens in the sixth week.

The first of the five sessions focused on exploring the park and finding out about some of the different plants they have there. Mark also saw lots of the local wildlife such as pigeons and squirrels – and peacocks!

A peacock in Holland Park putting on a display!

In the second week, the group learned about the types of trees and leaves they would find at the park, and how to identify them. Mark was really good at this task – one of the group leaders called him a ‘leaf expert’. He really enjoyed this week.

Mark learning about different trees and how to identify them

The third week was another highlight with some pond-dipping. They found lots of frogs and newts, as well as many other small wriggly creatures, and without getting their feet wet.

The fourth week was a chance to do some planting and get muddy! Although wellies were the recommended footwear for this session, Mark preferred to wear his trainers because style is really important to him – as you can tell in this picture:

The fifth and final session was on conservation, finding out more about how a large public space like Holland Park can play an important role in protecting and preserving the local environment.

At the end of the course, in the sixth week, there was a special Celebration Day at Kew Gardens. This was a wonderful visit, with great weather to match, and lots of exciting things to see and experience. Mark enjoyed visiting the world famous Temperate House and looking at the sculptures on exhibit too.

Mark said he would definitely recommend the course to his friends and other people who are interested in plants and gardens. He found the course fun and interesting, and the staff, Tilly and Sarah, were really friendly and helpful. It was also a great chance to socialise over tea or coffee and meet new people. The course is being repeated later this summer and if you are interested you can find out more, including contact details for Tilly Cook, at the People First website here: peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/events/groundwork/ecofit

Completing the EcoFit course has helped to grow Mark’s confidence in trying new things and meeting new people. Next on his list of things he would like to try is music – ideally drumming, because he loves playing on the electric drum set here at MySpace, and rock music is a real passion of his. Mark is also hoping to volunteer for a nearby Oxfam music shop and use some of his knowledge and skills there.

Our thanks to Mark for sharing his experiences with us.

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