Our Gateshead

Volunteer Project - Comfrey Project

The Comfrey Project is a registered charity which works with refugees and asylum seekers on allotment sites across Gateshead with the aim of improving their conditions of life and general wellbeing.   Included below are 2 examples of volunteers from the project and the impact it has had on them:

Mr S

Mr S, 50, originally came from Pakistan and has been part of the Comfrey Project for five years.

Mr S enjoyed coming to the Project as he liked the physical work. Digging for exercise, he said, was good for his body and he felt in better physical and mental shape after having done three hours hard work in the garden.  Mr S not only worked in the garden, but also cooked for others at the allotments, his curries becoming very popular.

Raising two teenage children as a single parent, Mr S used his time at the Project to improve his English language skills while awaiting a decision on his asylum claim. Unfortunately one of his children was returned to Pakistan on his eighteenth birthday, but his 16 year old daughter, who wants to be a soldier or in the police force, is a volunteer at many community events, and an Army Cadet.

 Hard working, generous, kind, with time for everyone, Mr S and his daughter received their right to remain earlier in 2017 and Mr S is now working full-time while going to college in his spare time.

Mrs J

Mrs J came to the UK as a refugee in 2010, and has been at the Comfrey Project for seven years. She has a teenage daughter and son, and one small child under ten.

Mrs J comes from a family of restaurateurs and chefs in Sri Lanka, and immediately took to organising the daily lunches of our gardeners, working from the small sheds at our allotments or the kitchen at Windmill Hills, our community garden. Cooking with donated foods or produce grown in our garden, often with no prior knowledge of what is available until she arrives on site, Mrs J organises a kitchen and a number of volunteer cooks to produce fresh, home cooked, vegetarian food for up to forty participants.

Over the past seven years, Mrs J has prepared over fourteen thousand lunches, always with a smile, and with utmost professionalism. Having received her right to remain in 2004 she has now set up her own Sri Lankan catering business, supplying snacks and catering for community events.   

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