A COMMUNITY fund is providing support for a local gardening group for the visually impaired.
Rio Tinto Lynemouth Smelter is using its Community Foudation Fund to help volunteers at Bloomers Garden Club to provide vital transport for its members.
The club is part of the Northumberland County Blind Association, a registered charity, which provides important services for blind and partially sighted people throughout the county.
Rio Tinto’s support is enabling volunteers to continue providing free transport to members in south east Northumberland so they can host regular outings to gardening venues, buy seeds, equipment, attract horticultural speakers and attend meetings at its Morpeth headquarters, which also has a sensory garden and allotment cultivated by members to grow fruit and vegetables.
Bloomers volunteer, John Anderson, from Morpeth, approached Rio Tinto in an appeal for support.
He said: “Being visually impaired can lead to personal isolation.
“Many of our members find it difficult to get out of their homes and take part in activities sighted people take for granted.
“Bloomers isn’t just informative, it’s also a very social activity giving members contact with other people, physical exercise and companionship.
“Just being in a garden can make you feel good, and with Rio Tinto’s support we can continue to run the club and hopefully attract more members.”
Rio Tinto’s Joanne Hannay said: “Bloomers is a fantastic club whose volunteers work hard to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing them with a social outlet through the joy of gardening.
“When we received John’s request for support we didn’t hesitate to see how we could assist through our Community Foundation Fund, which aims to support local charities, voluntary and community organisations throughout south east Northumberland.”
Bloomers member Alan Dixon said: “Gardening has kept me on my toes and given me something to do.
“I have made lots of friends and picked up tips from other people who have gone blind or who have been blind all their lives, it’s amazing.
“If our growing skills are successful we intend to sell some of our produce in order to buy more materials in future.
“I’d like to thank Rio Tinto for supporting the club.”