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Making the Difference – Sam and Katy Special Feature!

IN THIS NEW YEAR feature we share not one but two case studies from our Global Garden, Global Kitchen  - bringing you double the impact from one of our newest projects at the Selby Centre! 

Since December 2012 the project has raised more than £13,000 from local people and a growing network of donors online to establish a multicultural community growing space at the Selby centre, encouraging local skills and food security. Almost all the changes to the garden shown here have been achieved by volunteers - including students, corporate groups and ex-offenders.


“I was happy to hear about the plan, and to work with so many other volunteers because the changes I dreamed seemed possible. I’ve seen so many positive changes since and am proud to have been a part of a big journey.”

Sam first came to the Selby Centre for IT training with I Can Do It, now 5E providing employment support as part of the Work Programme in North London.

Familiar with the site, Sam took an interest in ideas for a gardening project based at the Centre and in August 2010, was a key volunteer when more than 500 volunteers joined X-Factor celebrity Olly Murs building raised beds and planting areas for a community garden.

Inspired by the project, Sam continued to volunteer at the Selby Centre before becoming aware of new growing areas being developed as part of the £11,104 campaign to transform the centre into an urban food garden and learning kitchen by crowd-funding with partners Spacehive.

Using his experience in horticulture and landscaping, Sam joined the team as a volunteer in May 2013, taking the lead in the maintenance of outside spaces, but also supervising and supporting volunteers for the project, providing work placements for individuals from Team London, the Job Centre and other organisations.

You would often find Sam outside digging tarracing, mowing the grass or planting, his love for horticultural as infectious as is his sense of humour and personality.

Since May, Sam has not only entertained the Selby staff with his endless wit and eagerness to take part in all activities at the centre but has as a result been a big part of volunteering days with Bupa, Swift Resources, helped manage a donation of plants from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and spoken to local youth about the project for the Challenge Network at the Selby Centre. Sam has also helped make a video for the project ahead of the BIG Connect event with Business in the community and has helped the Selby Trust hold a community auction event raising more than £2,400 for the project.

In September 2013, Samuel completed his volunteering placement on the project, becoming a valauble member of paid staff heavily involved in the planning of the project. 

Moving from Nigeria in 1984 as a Pastor, Sam begun studying Theology and Catering/Hospitality at Lambeth College in 1990, as well as working as a kitchen porter and a catering and events supervisor. In between his busy schedule Sam was able to find time to write a book on global teachings, his skills varying from painting, decorating and carpentry.

In 2014, Sam is looking forward to studying hospitality management at London Business School and is continuing to volunteer at the Selby Centre.

“Everything has changed since May – the site has been transformed, with raised beds, Containers, Terracing, £11,100 of donations and volunteers actively supporting the project.”


“I love being at the Selby Centre – The people are welcoming and it feels great to volunteer and see the space developing” - Katy, Global Garden, Kitchen Volunteer

Katy joined the Global Garden project in July 2013 after seeing the project page on Spacehive. A full time lecturer at Queen Mary University, Katy has since volunteered on the project one day a week and has been a key part of the efforts to increase awareness of the Global Kitchen, Global Garden fundraising campaign with partners Spacehive… so much so that she has continually brought new ideas and people to take part in the project, from door-knocking to helping hold an auction event at the centre. Katy’s family have also been involved by donating to the project.

Looking for an outlet and a way to do some physical work for the community, Katy found that volunteering at Selby allowed for there to be a counter balance of the stress and the mental health issues she was facing in her life:

“The Selby Centre helps me out a lot. I come here to get some physical activity and have a positive focus in my life. People are friendly and I feel welcome. They are very appreciative of the volunteers making a difference."

As an important part of the Green Hub team at the Selby Centre, Katy provided a huge amount of support and effort in helping fundraise. Using her own recipe which included chilli, garlic, peach, apple and cranberry she made her own chutney and sold it to neighbours and co-workers at Queen Mary as funding for the project entered the final stages in winter 2013.

“The Selby Centre is a medicine for me. It gets me out of the house because I know the garden is waiting for me to pull up weeds or pick up rubbish or dig some terrace. These activities give me a good feeling when I can see results. I love it when people stop by to chat in the garden, with tips for the work and stories about what is going on in their lives. Best of all I like to work with Samuel (above) who teaches me different names for the vegetables and how to make a terrace. We have worked together through the seasons, from emergency watering with the fire hose in the dry summer to keeping warm by shovelling earth in the winter." Katy is continuing to support the project in 2014 and is looking forward to see the use of funds raised to start planting and developing the final site with greenhouse, trees and fruit bushes in spring.

Find out more about the project by liking the Global Garden, Kitchen Facebook Page or dropping us a line on Twitter!

Interested in volunteering? Contact James or Candace at

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