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Social enterprise hires apprentice growers

Social enterprise hires apprentice growers

Three Pluss apprentices are being trained by Westward’s Bideford-based social enterprise Grow@Jigsaw with the aim of getting back into work.

Suzanne Guest, Michael Fishlock and Julian White have been taken on for six months as part-time apprentices at the horticultural business to learn a range of skills from gardening to customer service.

Grow, based in Victoria Park, provides training, work experience and support to about a dozen clients each day. It provides practical gardening in-house courses and volunteers learn skills to help build their self-confidence and enable them to find employment.

Suzanne used to run her own garden nursery before moving to North Devon and has volunteered at Grow for over four years.

“I have always liked gardening and growing things and I was walking round the park and saw the greenhouses and wondered what it was all about. It gets you out the house and gives you a purpose in life,” she said.

Michael Fishlock has been at Grow for a few weeks after being sent by Pluss to help find employment and is eager to learn about gardening.

“I have done a bit of gardening in the past but want to learn some more. I have helped to plant things out and with selling,” he commented.

Julian White has been a volunteer for two years after a career spent in IT to come to a halt.

“I was sent initially by the job centre. I like the people as they are open and honest and I enjoy the hard work. I hope it will take me on to greater things and help me find employment,” he said.

Pluss is an award-winning community interest company that supports thousands of people with disabilities and other disadvantages move towards and into employment each year.

Marise Mackie, Contract Manager at Pluss said it was wonderful to see how much Suzanne, Michael and Julian had developed their confidence during their time with Grow.

“The apprenticeships have given them a great opportunity to develop their skills. Now they have a belief in themselves that they can find work and this new-found confidence will help their journey into work no end. We are looking forward to working with Grow to help many more people into employment,” said Marise.

Grow sells vegetables and plants and also supplies local food businesses and plants for clients including Northam Town Council and Berrynarbor in Bloom.