Student volunteers wanted: Holyrood Harvest and Soul Food

New College students already play a lead role in the community gardening project - now the Church of Scotland seeks volunteers to support homeless people, too.

Holyrood Harvest was set up in 2017 to bring students and locals together to reclaim wasteground in the Holyrood, Dumbiedykes, and Southside area of Edinburgh, to make derelict land flower again. Now a graduate of New College, who helped to establish the project, is recruiting volunteers for this and another project.

Divinity alumnus and University of Edinburgh Church of Scotland Campus Minister, Rev Dr Liam Fraser, explains:

"The Church of Scotland’s Campus Ministry partners with a number of groups and organisations to mobilise students to serve the local community. We are always looking for volunteers and now we can offer another new way to take part."

Dr Fraser has degrees in Law, Divinity, a Masters in Theology and a Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. As Campus Minister, he spends much of his time working with students from his base in the Charteris Centre near The Pleasance.

Holyrood Harvest

Dr Fraser continues:

"The first project that we started in association with New College Missionary Society is Holyrood Harvest. This is based in the Dumbiedykes estate, the only part of Edinburgh city centre designated as deprived. Despite the fact that the University owns property right next to it, few students even realise it is there.

"Holyrood Harvest is a community gardening project that brings together students and locals to work waste ground in the Dumbiedyeks estate and makes it bloom. We meet together from 11am to 1pm each Saturday, and grow a wide variety of plants and vegetables, ranging from potatoes and rocket salad to hydrangeas and coriander. No experience is necessary, and all tools are provided."

New volunteers are always welcome. Student Josep Bouis regularly posts photographs of the garden on the project's Facebook page.

For me, Holyrood Harvest is a way of living out my theological studies in a way that impacts people and the communities around me. Very often students end up living in a bubble without realizing there are many persons around them who do not share their background or the privilege of studying at University. Breaking that barrier and helping out in whatever way one can is an ideal way of spending one’s time, and the projects are so much fun too!

Josep Bouis
3rd year Theology MA (Hons) student and Holyrood Harvest volunteer

New! Soul Food initiative

"This year, in collaboration with Edinburgh City Mission, we are also helping to run a new Soul Food initiative in Nicholson Square Methodist Church," adds Dr Fraser. "Many students and staff will walk past homeless people on a daily basis, know they want to help in some way, but feel awkward or unsure as to what to do. Soul Food will offer a free two course meal to homeless and vulnerable people in the city centre, but is meant to be more than just a meal, offering support, friendship, and someone to talk to. This will run every Wednesday evening, and there are a wide variety of volunteering opportuntities available."

The School of Divinity has a growing interest in alleviating homelessness. Any profits from the new Social Bite cafe in Rainy Hall go towards achieving Social Bite's vision: a Scotland where everyone has a safe place to call home.

Volunteer for Holyrood Harvest or the Soul Food initiative!

Email Rev Dr Liam Fraser



Holyrood Harvest

Chaplaincy team

Church of Scotland article: Campus Minister for Edinburgh University

New College Missionary Society blog

Nicholson Square Methodist Church

Social Bite Cafe at Rainy Hall