Gorgie City Farm serves the whole of Edinburgh and beyond but our local community represents the highest footfall. Our immediate neighborhoods of Gorgie, Dalry, Fountainbridge and Polwarth are all in the 5% most housing deprived in Scotland. We have an established reputation as a provider of effective volunteering opportunities, our latest survey results showed that 84% of volunteers identify as feeling part of the community and 95% say volunteering on the Farm has made them happier.
Our volunteers experience a wide range of health and social needs that causes marginalisation and excludes them from paid work and leading a full life. They have learning disabilities (some requiring one-to-one support in order to participate); physical disabilities, mental health conditions such as autism, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia and schizophrenia, criminal records and drug and alcohol issues. They can be lacking in confidence, often socially isolated as a result of unemployment, imprisonment or following ill health. Youth volunteers may have challenging home lives, or have poor physical and mental health, they also often have poor attendance at school.
Our approach is unconventional in that our volunteers work in groups of mixed age and ability. We have had great success with this peer education model and very positive feedback regarding the multi-generational approach.
A primary role of our service is identifying the individual strengths of people as they increase their involvement with us and transition from visitors, to becoming volunteers. By the time volunteers start, we will know their reasons for volunteering, their interests and abilities. Our Volunteer Support Workers monitor, encourage and develop skills and adjust tasks and support accordingly.