Volunteers' Week Showcase - Darkwood Crew
Volunteers' Week Showcase - Darkwood Crew

Volunteers' Week Showcase - Darkwood Crew

04/06/2023 (Staff Post )

The second of our Volunteers' Week Showcases: Darkwood Crew

Helping Ferguslie Flourish

Darkwood Crew is an environmental and conservationist group of volunteers based in Ferguslie Park who have a single defining mission of helping Ferguslie flourish and are responsible for a multi-faceted, highly effective, and wide-reaching #ReduceReuseRecycleFerguslie initiative. The initiative seeks to combine the group's pre and post-pandemic activities building on some of the solutions identified throughout lock-down, helping make the otherwise abstract concept of climate change relevant to local needs with a wider view of meeting those needs in a locally led, dignified and sustainable way. The 2 year long initiative consists of several strands including a daily 26-mile round trip across Renfrewshire collecting surplus food from a variety of high street stores helping minimise unnecessary food waste. This food is stored appropriately and made available to local people at their weekly community market helping tackle food insecurity amid the current cost of living crisis.

The market is further resourced by the collection of aluminium cans and plastic bottles which are later redeemed for food from Sainsburys helping fill gaps in the market such as cleaning and laundry materials. The group also have an electrical appliance and large furniture item recycling strand to their work helping avoid unnecessary landfill whilst also tackling poverty at a local level. The group has commissioned 2 art murals, one climate-themed on the Tannahill Centre courtyard wall, and the other anti-litter themed on their recently cited ReduceReuseRecycleFerguslie base which takes the form of an electrified welfare container adjacent to the village green. The group continue to maintain the village green on a regular basis helping ensure that the space is safe and accessible to all and have sought to improve it significantly by way of a 2 phased path improvement plan. The group are currently observing the installation of a community growing area behind  their welfare container which is intended to promote growing and planting and in turn help further resource the community market. The groups work is focussed on 5 key areas including food insecurity, fuel poverty, isolation & loneliness, mental health positivity and the local environment, all of which is underpinned by the belief that a greener more sustainable planet begins with greener more sustainable communities.        

The initiative developed from a group of people wanting to improve the condition of the local village green and has gone on to broaden its scope in line with identified community needs. The pandemic provided challenges of course but also a plethora of opportunities for local people to identify sustainable solutions to immediate needs associated with lockdown but also to historical challenged including food insecurity and poverty. Local attitudes have significantly changed with recycling becoming the norm in the local community, a marked and noticeable decrease in fly-tipping and littering, and a variety of green spaces having been regenerated by local people helping the community as a whole feel included in the initiative.      

The volunteers commitment and dedication knows no bounds in this 7 day a week endeavour. Our surplus food run for exmaple commences at 9pm every night, the impact on volunteers mental health, confidence levels, self esteem and educational attainement has been enhanced at varying levels including, informal and formal education as well as academia.   

A particular highlight this year was Ferguslie Park hosting a community learning exchange in partnership with Keep Scotland Beautiful hosting several other communities from across Scotland who had also taken part in a Community Climate Action Plan initiative as part of a 7 community pilot project. To think Ferguslie Park is viewed as a community from which to learn demonstrates perfectly the dedication and commitment by volunteers over recent years.   

Thank you Darkwood Crew for everything you do helping Ferguslie flourish.       

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