After 35 years ‘we need to grow’
IF Grow Ltd does not move forward it is going to run out of steam, according to its chairman, Mark Dunster, who says the organisation needs between £2.5m. and £3m. for redevelopment.
Once ground-breaking – providing inspiration for similar projects in Jersey and further afield – Grow has operated from Petits Quartiers Vinery for 35 years and the site is in dire need of repair before it becomes too unsafe to operate.
‘I would ask your readers to come down and visit our site,’ said Mr Dunster, ‘You all know where we are right? Along Marette Road on the corner with Verte Rue.
‘Visit our site now and imagine what it would be like to buy plants from the new greenhouses; imagine what it would be like to visit the second-hand up-cycling furniture shop; imagine taking in the surroundings at the cafe with a slice of cake and cup of tea all made and served by our crew members.
‘We want to become a social enterprise hub and, if we manage to redevelop, that is what it will become. It is not that we have lagged behind Jersey, but it is more that after taking inspiration from us some 30 years ago, they have now accelerated away.’
Mr Dunster was speaking at a Government House reception to mark the 35th birthday of Grow.
The organisation has had a huge impact upon many islanders who would otherwise have been unable to work, but Guernsey’s largest third sector organisation could have to close its doors.
If redeveloped, the site could accommodate double the 25 members who currently work at Grow.
‘It had never really occurred to me what happens to those with learning difficulties once they leave school and become young adults,’ said Mr Dunster.
‘Well, the answer is that you’re on your own and unless you can or your parents can find you work there is nothing for you.
‘That is OK if you can work, but some people are never going to be able to perform comfortably in a normal working environment. Grow gives them the chance to find fulfilment, a very modest wage (so Social Security doesn’t come and take it back off them) and, most importantly, they get a sense of pride in their work. These are fundamentals to being happy and content, an opportunity they would otherwise be denied.’
Lt-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder said: ‘One of the things that Catherine and I noticed when we arrived in the island was the rich tapestry of charitable organisations. A shining star of that patchwork or tapestry without doubt is Grow – 35 years is an extraordinary achievement.’