Coming up roses on derelict land

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Deputy Mayor Stephen Martin pictured at the launch of the Stepping Stones Youth Service Community Garden in Dromore with Recovery Cafe Sheila Smyth, Conor McKenna and Youth Service Co-Ordinator Jamie McCutcheon �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1631-253EB
Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Deputy Mayor Stephen Martin pictured at the launch of the Stepping Stones Youth Service Community Garden in Dromore with Recovery Cafe Sheila Smyth, Conor McKenna and Youth Service Co-Ordinator Jamie McCutcheon �Edward Byrne Photography INBL1631-253EB

A disused space has been transformed into a community garden in Dromore by the Youth Service of award-winning charitable organisation Stepping Stones NI.

The garden was officially launched on Monday, August 1

Fourteen young people aged 16 to 24 volunteered their time over the last two months to create a memorial garden, vegetable plot and barbecue area for The Right Key in Dromore.

The garden will be used by adults recovering from alcohol addiction who will utilise the space to relax and grow vegetables to create dishes at The Recovery Café.

Stepping Stones NI Youth Service provides support to enhance the employability skills of young people with a learning disability or difficulty. Support includes access to accredited training, work tasters, job placements and volunteering opportunities

Last year Stepping Stones NI supported 26 young people with five progressing into employment and training.

Jamie McCutcheon, Stepping Stones NI Youth Service Coordinator, said: “Over the last two months I have witnessed how several of our young people’s confidence has grown because they have engaged in a positive and meaningful activity that they feel proud of. We now have young people moving on to work placements because they have realised their potential to achieve and progress through volunteering on the garden transformation project”

Shiela Smyth, Director of The Right Key said: “I am amazed at what has been achieved in such a short time frame by the young people.

“Our partnership with the Stepping Stones NI Youth Service has been a positive experience with I would recommend any organisation to engage with them to achieve a win-win scenario”. The young people received ‘Singing for Health workshops’ from Shiela in exchange for their hard work and performed for the Deputy Mayor of LCC Council at the launch event.