By Paul Abraham
HOLLYBUSH is based on the Bramley-Kirkstall boundary and is an environmental volunteering centre that has now been running for over 40 years.
The building itself dates back to at least 1700, when the site was a farm before The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) decided to take the empty building and overgrown land as its West Yorkshire branch in 1979.
It has been running training and education programmes, facilatating volunteering and improving green spaces ever since.
Their amazing and dedicated volunteers help to manage green spaces across Leeds and beyond.
It is also home to The Hollybush Project which runs nature-based activities for adults with learning difficulties and the Hollybush Community Cafe which is open to the public.
With Hollybush being a Safe Space and with their desire for everyone to have a rewarding and positive experience while volunteering with them, they ask new volunteers to sign a Code of Conduct developed to make sure all activities run safely, and everyone feels welcome.
The centre’s aim is to bring people and places together to create happy, healthy and connected communities for everyone, while TCV is an inclusive organisation which works with groups from all backgrounds and is committed to the safeguarding of the groups with which they work.
My recent visit was a real eye-opener as many motorists will speed past the centre without realising what an important place it is for people of all backgrounds and experience.
While I was there, the site had a woodworking group making planters which the centre sells, another group were sat around a roaring fire while working on other wood related projects.
Plants were being re-potted in another area of the centre as a workshop on willow weaving took place in one of the centre’s teaching spaces.
The hive of activity didn’t stop me from taking time out to watch the squirrels and a variety of birds and allow me to have some mindfulness moments in the wonderful wooded areas.
A range of nature-based courses from gardening and conservation, to basket making or woodwork, there is something inspiring for everyone.
Weekend or seasonal/family courses can be booked and paid for through their Eventbrite page and their free or low-cost Adult Community Learning courses can be booked at the Leeds Learning Hub – type LS5 into the search.
My visit really showed me at first hand what a fabulous and incredibly important oasis Hollybush really is.
The centre allows people to connect with people of shared interests and begin new friendships while being in the fresh air and being active, which improves their mental health and wellbeing as an added bonus.
Please check out Hollybush and all the activities they offer, you will not be disappointed and you may end up making your own handmade willow basket!