A CHARITY will “fully recover” from a fire last year thanks to a grant from the South Wales Argus parent company.

The allotment site belonging to the Roots@Bettws project was set on fire one year ago today, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

The project has now been awarded £960 by the Gannett Foundation – which is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc, the parent company of Newsquest Media Group.

Rob Larkins, chief executive officer of Vision21, who run the project, said they will be using the grant to repair the polytunnel that was damaged in the fire and to repair the cold frames.

He said: “This means that, in 2018, Roots will be fully recovered from the fire and will have great facilities to match the excellent staff providing training for adults with learning needs.

“Thanks to the Gannett Foundation and the South Wales Argus.”

Project leader Debbie Cox said they work with adults with learning needs - such as autism, Asperger syndrome or Down’s syndrome – and provide vocational training.

She said they grow all sorts in the allotment and that, at the moment, they are growing onions, garlic, rhubarb and kale, amongst others.

“A lot of them treat this is as work and come several times a week,” Ms Cox said. “It gives them a purpose, a reason to wake up in the morning.

“It also gives them confidence and social skills. We notice a difference within weeks of them joining the project.”

Ryan, from the Gaer area of Newport, is one of the trainees involved in the project.

The 35-year-old, who has been involved in Vision21 in different projects since 2006, said he has been going to the allotment in Bettws twice a week for a year.

He said: “I enjoy learning and doing gardening. It makes me happy.

“It would make quite upset if the project was to end. It means a lot to me.”

Ryan said he is now growing vegetables and fruits in his garden, such as onions and strawberries.

Roots@Bettws is open to people aged 14 and above. They have a capacity of up to eight students a day and they are currently looking for more students. To find out more, email ed.synan@v21.org.uk

Alternatively, you can visit v21.org.uk