The Duchess, the City Farm and the Palestinian …
HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visited Walworth Garden Farm in Southwark on 06/09/2011. This Horticultural project provides employment training and starter jobs for under-qualified jobseekers. HRH met its’ staff, trainees, children from Keyworth local Primary School, and Southwark councillors and -staff. But WGF does much more than just creating gardeners and gardeners jobs: it teaches schools about growing food and making school gardens, runs community bee keeping- and gardening day courses, and does Council park- and commercial gardening contracts. It also provides gardening for many elderly local residents unable to do their own.‘In-house’ woodcarver Arthur has just completed a butterfly shaped bench, and WGF’s education worker designed a splendid wrought iron entrance gate.
This project, now two decades old, creates the Good Society….where Small is Beautiful….
Mohamed Barakat, a Palestinian asylum seeker, volunteers as an intern with the WGF services company, where he learns British working skills and improves his English, whilst waiting for UKBA to grant him final Leave to Remain in Britain.
Mohamed fled the West Bank in 2003 soon after the Israeli army killed his family in a bombing raid on Jenin refugee camp. Israel does not permit any Palestinians to return to the Occupied Territories. Despite UN- and EU treaties stating that such displaced Palestinians should be granted permanent Leave to Remain in any EU country receiving them, Mohamed after eight years still has no status and is often downcast about ever living a normal life. Immigration law does not allow him to work, study, earn any money, or receive any welfare beyond some supermarket gift card food shopping . Mohamed told HRH how much he liked volunteering on Walworth Garden Farm…’When I am in this place I feel happy; it reminds me of working on the land with my father, back home in Jenin’.
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