Europe copies Suffolk initiative

A THRIVING initiative launched to help people with learning difficulties into work has been deemed such a success it is being copied across Europe. Growing Places, based in Claydon, is a horticultural project which delivers boxes of Suffolk-grown fruit and vegetables, and also offers garden maintenance and design.

A THRIVING initiative launched to help people with learning difficulties into work has been deemed such a success it is being copied across Europe.

Growing Places, based in Claydon, is a horticultural project which delivers boxes of Suffolk-grown fruit and vegetables, and also offers garden maintenance and design.

Formed in 1998, the project provides training and employment opportunities for around 40 people with learning difficulties for between three months and a year before helping them to find paid work.

Maggie Roberts, Growing Places manager, said: “We give people the opportunity to develop skills and employment in real work environments.

“Just because they have learning difficulties, it doesn't mean they can't work.

“Our products are low in food miles and high in freshness. We source and buy the food, then we sell it.

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“It really is about work, because we have deadlines and customers who are waiting.”

Growing Places, in Hillview Business Park, is part of a network of eight Realise European projects across Suffolk which have benefited from £717,000 in European cash.

It has worked so well that the project has garnered interest from Germany, Italy, Poland, Lithuania and Finland.

Suffolk Euro MP Richard Howitt, president of the European Parliament Disability Group, said: “It's great to see that a project here in Claydon is literally sowing the seeds for others like it across Europe.

“The lessons, experiences and the work of the disabled workers I have met will help people with disabilities in other countries to break into the workplace.”

For more information, visit www.growingplacessuffolk.co.uk

What do you think of the project? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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