A local mental health charity has been helping to make environmental improvements to the landscape around Northumberland’s biggest port.
Service users from Blyth Star Enterprises’ Stakeford Nurseries have been planting trees and shrubs at the Port of Blyth’s South Harbour as part of a new landscaping maintenance contract.
The commercial contract forms part of the work carried out by the charity under the remit of its ‘Next Steps’ project, which aims to provide its service users who have participated in the horticultural training programme taught at Stakeford Nurseries with volunteering experience in community-based environments.
“Blyth Star Enterprises has worked closely alongside the Port of Blyth for a number of years,” said Dan Hedley, horticultural services manager at Stakeford Nurseries.
“For our service users, getting out into the local community to deliver projects like the one at the Port is really important as it helps them to develop their social and interpersonal skills, as well as provide them with a new outlet for what they have learned through the course of their training.
“In the past, we have helped to carry out general maintenance work around the Port of Blyth but this is the first, larger scale landscaping project we have been involved with.
“The staff and service users thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we hope that this will be the first project of many.”
Tom Chaplin, PR and communications manager at Port of Blyth, said: “The Port of Blyth has been an integral part of Blyth town’s history for hundreds of years, which is something we are very proud of.
“Supporting the community is really important to us and we like to ensure that we support local businesses as much as possible in our activities.
“The work carried out by Blyth Star Enterprises to help provide people living with learning disabilities and mental health issues with real work experience is fantastic and we really value the services they provide to the Port.”
Blyth Star Enterprises supports over 350 people living with severe and enduring mental ill health and or learning disabilities.
As part of its unique pathway to independent living, the charity operates two social enterprises, The Woodfuel Centre and Stakeford Nurseries, which provide service users with real-life work experience in a sheltered environment where they can be supervised and cared for.