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Watch Us Grow

07 November 2014

Established in 1999, Watch US Grow is a charity based in Cumbernauld that provides learning experiences for people with additional support needs and volunteers with mental health issues.

Working from a garden in Palacerigg Country Park, Watch US Grow provides students with a therapeutic learning experience where they develop a range of skills related to organic gardening, recycling and composting. The skills that they learn from working in the garden help to enhance their confidence and self esteem. Once the students feel ready, they are then encouraged to move in to supported employment.

Colin has been involved with Watch US Grow since day one. At that time he lived in a supported tenancy with several other adults with disabilities, and attended the local Day Care Centre several days each week.

At Watch US Grow Colin has undertaken lots of training in the community garden and learned a variety of gardening and horticultural skills. He has also learned the importance of arriving to work on time, wearing the appropriate clothing and treating fellow workers with respect. 

In 2002, Watch US Grow launched their first social enterprise, ‘Watch US Grow in the community’ and Colin was first to be recruited to the team of paid workers, helping to develop and deliver projects in partnership with local organisations and schools.

Colin loved being a paid member of staff – especially the pay packet at the end of each month! He grew in confidence and was extremely proud of his work.

During this time, Colin moved into his own home which he loves. He is able to get from his home to the town centre without support and is leading a more independent and fulfilling life.

Colin’s mum is very proud of his achievement. She said “I never thought we’d see the day when he had a pay packet.”

Today, Colin works with various projects in the community with Watch US Grow, for example as a driver’s mate for Nursery Needs – helping with collections for the social enterprise which refurbishes used children’s nursery equipment, prams, cots and buggies, which are then sold on or rented to the public at a reasonable cost.

Earlier this year, following fifteen years with Watch US Grow, Colin received a Long Service award for his commitment and hard work. 

Ann McCulloch, general manager at Watch US Grow said “Colin’s journey with us has been a great example of how people with a little bit of support can grow and prosper.”

When asked what he likes about Watch US Grow Colin said, “I love coming to my work and meeting my friends. I wish I could work more.”

Watch US Grow volunteers have supported teams on the Caledonian Challenge since 2008 and have received grants worth £3400 for their endeavour. This year they provided great encouragement to teams as the reached Checkpoint 3 at Glencoe, and received a grant of £700 for their efforts.

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