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Growing Up – helping young people with disabilities to flourish

Release Date: 20 Feb 2013

Beechgrove Garden Jim McColl celebrated the launch of a new and unique service for young people in Dundee with additional support needs, on Wednesday 20 February.

Growing Up is a service run by Dundee Family Support Team (DFST), part of the children’s charity Barnardo’s Scotland.  

Jim Wallace, Assistant Director, Barnardo’s Scotland said:

“We know from speaking to young people, their families and the various professionals who support young people with additional support needs in Dundee, that this unique service will make a real difference – providing opportunities and hope for the future.  

“Many learning disabled young people would like to be given the chance to work or volunteer and they all have a great deal to offer.  We intend to help them on this journey - this is great news for young people and great news for Dundee.”   

The service offers skills training in horticulture and utilises horticultural therapy to aid the development of the trainees, aged from 18 – 25 years old.  The programme will give the young people a recognised industry qualification; work experience and skills that could lead to further education or to employment, as well as a lifelong interest in horticulture.     

On successful completion of the course Trainees will receive a Certificate from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, The Barnardo’s Certificate in Horticulture as well as access to the Scottish Qualifications Authority Dynamic Youth Awards. All Certification is externally verified by qualified horticulturalists or educationalists.

The Growing Up programme has been ably assisted throughout its development by Trellis, Scotland’s Horticultural Therapy Charity, which has the television personality and Horticulturalist Jim McColl OBE as its champion and patron.

The horticultural training programme runs over 44 weeks; groups of young people attend the programme on a part-time basis, 2 -3 days per week, until they complete the course.  The young people will be supported by a full time development worker and full time gardener, support member and volunteers making up the weekly staff group.

Training will be delivered throughout our city campus consisting of two allotments, Barnardo’s Scotland’s grounds and Capability Scotland’s grounds at Broughty Ferry by kind permission of the Manager Gillian Currie and also close contact with Kingspark School. The Eco Church at Menzieshill Church of Scotland also offers land for the trainees to work on a high profile site. Future horticultural training will be made possible by the offer of Megginch Castle Grounds courtesy of the Honourable Catherine Herdman.

All of the trainees receive written testimonials from outside agencies testifying to the high standards of workmanship displayed by the trainees.

Dundee Family support Team has been in existence since 1985, providing a service to Dundee’s children and young people.  Given the goodwill and kindness which has been shown by the people of Dundee towards DFTS over the past 26 years the service is confident that many of the young people will enjoy the sort of opportunities that others take for granted thanks to the people of this city.


Notes to the Editor

Growing Up commenced with staff on 1 June 2012, eight young people joined the programme in August after the service received twelve referrals. Acceptance to the service was strongly emphasized as to each trainee having a history of horticulture or a clear interest in horticulture.

Growing Up has been funded by the Big Lottery – Life Transitions Fund and also supported by Dobbies Garden World Dundee. Barnardo’s Scotland would like to thank them for their support and faith in the new service.

Through partnership working within Dundee the service aims to identify opportunities for young people to move on with support from the Growing Up team and volunteers.

The service would like to hear from anyone who would be interested in  

  • volunteering with Growing Up
  • donating horticultural equipment
  • offering horticultural placement for young people
  • developing local contacts within the City of  Dundee and Tayside
  • contacting the service to refer young people to the programme  

Jim McColl OBE is a well-known horticultural consultant and TV & radio broadcaster, most famous for being one of the original presenters and the longest serving presenter and gardener of Aberdeen television programme The Beechgrove Garden which is broadcast on BBC Scotland and from April will also be broadcast to the UK.  Jim has been working with people with learning and or physical difficulties since the 1960’s, he is also a patron of Trellis.

Trellis isdesigned to support therapeutic gardening through a range ofeasy to access services. Sharing knowledge of therapeutic gardening, the art ofusing gardening to help people take care of their physical, emotional and social well being. Trellis support a network of over 200 therapeutic gardening projects in Scotland to share skills, good practice and get connected.

The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society often referred to as the Caley. The Society seeks to promote and support gardening and all aspects of horticulture in Scotland. A core charitable aim of the Society is to advance education in gardening and horticulture for the public benefit. Through its work with Oatridge College at Suntrap Garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh, the Society became aware of a need to recognise the achievements of people with complex learning needs who work in garden or horticultural settings.

For more information regarding all aspects of the service please contact:

John Davidson, Development Worker at the Growing Up Service 14 Dudhope Street, Dundee DD1 1JU. Telephone Number: 01382 224 924. email:

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