On Tuesday, the 11th of July, we took our amazing mentees from the Dream Big programme with WTW to Dulwich Park to do conservation work. Many of the young people had never done gardening before, so it was a steep learning curve, but they got stuck in with great passion.
We worked with HandsOn London and the park garden management company to ensure we had the correct equipment and guidance.
Two of the WTW mentors, Michelle and Nneoma, also came along to work with the mentees, leading by example when it came to difficult tasks. After a briefing, the students were given lopers, gardening forks and rakes and tasked with clearing all the weeds and overgrowth of plants in two huge beds on either side of a stream. It was tough work with large swathes of bamboo that needed to be removed.
The mentees worked in teams, quickly identifying their strengths, with some eagerly demolishing large plants and trees, others digging up stubborn roots, and some breaking down waste and bagging it up for disposal.
Nneoma said: “This is such a nice programme, I look forward to doing more in the future. Everyone was so involved, helping each other, we worked in teams, without much supervision, we just got the job done.”
The mentees all felt a sense of accomplishment when we had finished the day as they had cleared a large area and developed a new path down to the river, removing brambles and small trees in the way.
One Mentee said: “It was great to be out in the park, in nature, learning new skills as I hadn’t gardened before. We made a new pathway, and I would love to come back and do it again”
Giving back to the community is one of the three tenets of the Dream Big programme, along with mentorship and work experience. These days are so important to enable the mentees to make a big impact in their own communities. As the mentees move into year two of the programme, they will be looking to expand their giving back and grow their soft skills.