Our first ambassador hybrid event

Image of everyone at the event outside in the garden including a laptop with people joining remotely.

In October a few of the Euan’s Guide staff team and some of our Ambassadors met up at The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for a hybrid ‘Accessible Gardening’ workshop. The event was arranged by Jenny Foulkes, their Community Engagement Manager, and Elinor Leslie, Community Gardener.

The workshop was designed to be as inclusive as possible whether that was your location, your access requirements or the size of your garden... If you have one. It was the first hybrid event for both Euan’s Guide and the Botanic Garden, and we were delighted to have people join us remotely from their own homes in Inverness, Dumfries and Shetland.

The event space was perfect for a hybrid event in terms of the online and audio and visual equipment, and the physical space, which was flat and roomy, had an adjoining accessible toilet. Furthermore, Jenny and Elinor had really considered the best approach to include people who might not have a garden, setting us up with learning how to pot seeds which meant that people could utilise their windowsills and courtyards as well as larger outdoor spaces.

We joined the Royal Botanic Gardens staff members in one of their event cottages which was well set up for everyone as the tables were at a perfect height for wheelchair users and everything you needed to take part in the workshop was grouped together at everyone’s workstations and easily reachable. One of our Ambassadors said: “I thought the ladies presenting the talk were very good, and had thought of most things around our disabilities as well.”

Attendees learnt about planting spring bulbs and sowing microgreen seeds, they also got the chance to ask planting and vegetable questions afterwards over a warm drink. Our Ambassador from Shetland shared, “It was good joining remotely it makes a big difference to be able to join in events that I wouldn't otherwise be able to attend."

The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh kindly sent out packs to our remote Ambassadors with bulbs, seeds and an adorable hedgehog pot to plant the bulbs in. Instructions were included in the packs and suggestions for household items you could use if you didn’t have certain gardening tools, for example if you cut a plastic milk bottle in half at an angle it can be used as a trowel if you don’t have one.

Most of our Ambassadors who joined remotely decided to do the activity at a later date and just watch the workshop, but they still felt very much included. “I also felt that the different camera POVs (point of views) were really useful and really helped to make it feel more immersive." Some of our Ambassadors require extra help from carers or family members but throughout the whole event no one felt rushed at all and one of our in-person Ambassadors mentioned afterwards, “I really enjoyed the way it was set up and the pace. I was able to help my wife and still take part which was lovely."

We even had time for a tour around their fruit and vegetable garden after the workshop where they had the reddest of apples and some of the members in our group were envious of their kale! The hybrid set up meant that remote Ambassadors could stay for the outdoor tour too with one saying, “I really loved the outdoor tour too (especially as it was pouring rain up here); it was lovely to see the sunflowers and lavender."

It was wonderful to hear that Royal Botanic Gardens enjoyed the event too. Jenny said: "It was a real pleasure working with Euan's Guide and running a workshop for the Ambassadors. It was a great opportunity for us to learn some new skills as it was the first time we've run a hybrid session (we've done lots online and in person but not at the same time before).

"We also have limited experience of running gardening workshops for participants who use wheelchairs. All the participants were very accommodating and patient with us and we definitely feel much more confident about running similar sessions in the future. The feedback was really helpful for us developing the programme. Our whole community engagement programme is about making the Botanics more accessible to everyone, so I'm delighted that we were able to have visitors from across Scotland and deliver a workshop that was suitable for all involved.

'I very much hope we can work together again, as well as all the benefits mentioned we had a really enjoyable morning with some lovely people!"

This was a fantastic event enjoyed by all. Thank you to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh for organising it, and we look forward to seeing how everyone’s bulbs flower next Spring.

Tags: Edinburgh, events, Ambassadors, Wildlife, culture


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