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Being A Good Neighbour
By Mark Newman, Physical and Health Education Teacher and Trip Leader

People and Gardens : Personal Development Week 2018

People and Gardens (P&G), was established in 1997 to assist people with learning disabilities and mental health issues develop their work and social skills, thus promoting and enabling them to gain self-esteem and confidence in a safe working and social environment.

The founders of P&G understand through their own experiences, that we should all work together to break down barriers, to educate and to support each other to make the world a better place for everyone. “Being a good neighbour” is the undercurrent for all they stand for. This statement has been the foundation for the relationship between ISZL and P&G.

ISZL high school students have been visiting the lovely people that make up P&G for the last 4 years. The personal development week to Cornwall enable our students to improve their social skills, break down their own personal barriers, increase self-awareness, work with others they would not normally, and promote team building and leadership skills. The factor which makes this venture unique and is at the heart of the trip is the integration between our students and the volunteers at P&G. Working together helps their social development and cultivates the caring and respectful environment which is such a special part of this personal development trip.

The students are also challenged outside of their work at P&G. Life skills such as budgeting, meal planning, and cooking are developed throughout the week as they have to look after themselves and their peers for all their meals. The "cook off" on the penultimate evening encourages the development of these skills and makes for an entertaining evening!

One student summed up their experience of this year's PDW trip as follows:

"[People and Gardens] is a place where you do not have to be afraid of who you are or what you have been through, but instead you can be proud of how far you have come and set your eyes on a brighter future. Thank you for organising the trip. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and working with them. I feel grateful to have had this opportunity and look forward to seeing everyone again soon."

This year's trip was a resounding success and one of the founders of P&G, Ken Radford, confirmed this in his closing speech to us. He always promotes “kindness to neighbours” as the motto of P&G, and our group demonstrated this with the volunteers in abundance. His positive praise of our students through social media sums up a wonderful week:

"[It is] always a pleasure and privilege to host the students from ISZL. They epitomise for me everything that is good in young people, and they should feel proud of themselves...every one of them."

Last week P&G's founders, Ken and Lorraine Radford, travelled with three of their volunteers to Switzerland to visit ISZL and see all the students they have met. It was a joy to show them the High School, welcome them to lunch with the students who had been on the Cornwall trip, present them our fundraising donation in the school assembly and finish the day with some fun cricket.

The team from People & Gardens visiting our Riverside Campus last week

We all look forward to future trips to P&G, supporting their work whilst building lasting friendships and helping to develop the students of ISZL.

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