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CalMac helps Mull community garden to bloom

A community garden on Mull aiming to improve the well being of residents will continue to bloom after receiving a boost from ferry operator CalMac.

The Ross of Mull Community Garden will use a recent award from the CalMac Community Fund to grow activities and opportunities for people of all ages living on the island.

The garden is used by a variety of groups and individuals, such as a parent and toddler group and a children's nature club. Eight people have their own allotment-style space within it and volunteers are working on a scheme to grow native trees for replanting in Tiroran Community Forest.

Set up by the South West Mull and Iona Development (SWMID) last year, the garden has been developed in the grounds of the Ross of Mull Historical Centre in Bunessan by volunteers led by paid sessional workers.

The aims of the community garden are to reduce social isolation, promote improved mental and physical well-being, provide advice and education about gardening, and to grow local food in a geographically remote area.

Philip Yielder of the SWMID said: "The CalMac Community Fund award will enable us to develop a garden space in the heart of our community. It will be a welcoming place to be enjoyed by all local people - somewhere to meet, grow, learn and play. We shall be able to provide a wide variety of activities, contributing to the health and well-being of our community and reaching out to those who may otherwise be socially isolated."

Julie, who volunteers at the community garden, said: "It has been lovely seeing the dramatic changes to the area each time I have volunteered.  Initially an overgrown area of brambles and rhododendron now an organised space with some lovely trees (which were hidden), raised beds, shed and space for meeting up for a cup of tea when it is allowed."

Fellow volunteer Judy added: "It feels that during these times of restrictions, both physical and social, the garden is becoming a breathing space - a place to re-engage with things we took for granted but now we find are so essential, somewhere to be and work with other people."

Groups and charities working to help people experiencing mental health issues, social isolation, loneliness and or poverty recently received awards from the Community Fund of between £500 and £2,000.

Gordon McKillop, CalMac's Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, said: "The Ross of Mull Community Garden is a perfect example of a community led project positively benefiting the people's lives.

"The last year has been turbulent for so many and the third sector has responded magnificently across our network. There are still many challenges to come as we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic and I hope the awards we have made alleviate some of the social issues that arise consequently."

For more information about the CalMac Community Fund, visit the website

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