In light of the UK lockdown, we unfortunately won’t be bringing our usual bright and colourful newsletter to you this quarter.
However, here’s an electronic version with the added benefit of bigger photos!

We’re hoping to bring you our next newsletter in July 2020.


Learners go from strength to strength

Our Grow Your Future learners have made a flying start at ActivGardens.

They have enjoyed a range of activities on Mondays and Fridays, including gardening tasks, environmental conservation and beekeeping, cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients and pizza making on our clay oven.

Unfortunately, the project has been postponed owing to coronavirus lockdown, but we are hoping to finish off training with our first intake of learners online.

When we get back to normal, Eastern Region Roof Training are planning to deliver skills workshops as part of the project and ASDA is offering mock interviews to trainees.

Register your interest and we will let you know when our next FREE course starts…

 Grow Your Future will enable you to learn new skills and gain confidence on your way to further opportunities and employment.

The 12-week scheme will include garden maintenance, horticulture and environmental conservation, with a chance to get involved in specialist activities such as woodworking or bee-keeping.

Grow Your Future is for anyone aged 16+ who is unemployed or economically inactive, and encourages people who face barriers to work – such as a disability, health condition, or caring responsibilities.

  • Where? The People’s Community Garden, Maidenhall Allotments, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE
  • When? Next course start date to be confirmed

The programme is funded by the European Social Fund and the Education & Skills funding Agency, and administered by LIFT Community Grants ‘Local Investment in Learning Paths to Work’.

New chapter for school grounds

ActivGardens are busy planning a sensory garden at Stoke High – Ormiston Academy to brighten up the front of the school and encourage students and community library users to enjoy the natural environment and read al fresco!

With the help of contractors from Clarion Futures, who funded the initiative, we are also planning to install raised beds in the library courtyard so older people can join in with gardening activities.

We would like to thank Louisa van den Berg, an RHS flower show winner, who has designed the garden and helped with logistics.

Last term, Lesley was  busy in the new vegetable garden, down at the bottom of the playing field, planning and planting with an enthusiastic group of students, who are learning skills and enjoying fresh flavours.


  • Once we are able to return to normal, we will be holding a community planting day to get the sensory garden planted up – do email if you’d like to help out.

Community Garden offers learning programme to schools

ActivGardens is launching a new learning and skills programme at the People’s Community Garden to inspire young people and help move them on to the world of work.

Starting whenever we are able to get back to normal (possibly Autumn term 2020), it will consist of half-termly (five-week) programmes, giving young people a chance to learn hands-on in the great outdoors, as well as improving their overall health and wellbeing in a community-embedded project.

The programme will benefit from the expertise of careers professional Bev Baker – project officer at the People’s Community Garden.

The programme will offer a range of activities in gardening and horticulture, nature conservation and beekeeping, woodworking and construction, cooking and crafts.

The scheme will help young people:

  • learn practical skills, gain work experience, and take on leadership/ organisational roles
  • develop competencies such as working as a team, good communication, and being willing to take on and understand responsibility
  • build self-esteem, gain confidence, and feel pride in their achievements
  • feel better – both physically and mentally
  • develop friendships, form social networks and feel a part of their community.

For more details, please call Fundraising and Development Manager Susannah Robirosa on 07530 407302 or email

On our last session with young people at Northgate High School in March, budding gardeners took away pumpkin seeds they could plant at home – something to focus on in the challenging weeks ahead, giving them a feeling of hope for the future. In autumn, we hope these young people will be able to bring back their pumpkins to school and celebrate the resumption of normal life together.

Never mind the weather!

Two classes of 30 children from Sprites primary braved the rain to visit our walled garden as part of their topic on the ‘Scented Garden’.

They learned all about how to nurture plants before sowing seeds to take back to their school to look after and plant out.

Huge thanks to Thompson & Morgan for donating the seeds!


It’s bloomin’ lovely in Sudbury

Where once was a bare patch of land was a glowing host of golden daffodils in early Spring – thanks to the work of Sudbury volunteers who planted this forgotten flower bed with bulbs kindly donated by Riverside Bulbs.

  • The team usually meets every Thursday morning at 10am Belle Vue Park. To register your interest, please contact project officer Bev Baker on or email . Bev will let you know when the volunteer session is up and running again.

Shedders are shell-shocked

ActivSheds recently received its most unusual commission to date. We have made a mini Suffolk barn, a cat box, and many a hedgehog home… and now we have been asked to make a tortoise hideout!

Although this has had to be put on the back burner for the time being, the shedders will be busy building this and their amazing array of products once they are able to get back to work.

ActivSheds offer not just standard bird boxes – we have whole sparrow terraces to encourage these cheeky chappies (in sad decline) to our gardens and green spaces, alongside bat boxes, bird feeders and bird tables, garden trugs and planters, obelisks to support plants, tool holders so you can keep everything together, bread boards  lovingly decorated…  and much much more…

  • Why not think up your own unusual commission to get the shedders busy thinking during lockdown?

We also renovate and repair, recycle and upcycle – so we’re doing our bit to save resources and give your garden benches a new lease of life.

  • Owing to popular demand, we will be launching a new ActivSheds session when we are able to open again… so watch this space….

Keeping our bees buzzing

Our community beekeeping project has sadly had to be put on hold owing to the current situation. But our small team of project beekeepers are keeping our buzzing friends happy and well meanwhile.

To keep yourself connected with nature during this difficult time, watch for signs of spring when you leave home for your exercise each day – have you heard a blackcap or spotted a swallow yet – both arriving from Africa? Try to identify one of the many sorts of bumble bees emerging now. What about trying to name a few spring wildflowers?

  • If you would like to help keep our bees buzzing – please sponsor a bee. For £5 you will get a fantastic information pack and contribute to our project. Please email  to find out more.

Growing for ‘Eden’

Pacitti Company has enlisted ActivGardens as a growing partner for its SPILL Festival this year.

Luckily, we managed to get the seeds sown before lockdown, and a small team of volunteers is keeping the seedlings watered and well.

They will hopefully form part of an art project ‘Eden’ by Canadian artist Mary Catherine Newcomb, made up of curious creatures, grown from veg with the use of custom-made moulds.

< This one is is a Bride Aubergine ‘Saint’


French garden exchange

ActivGardens has entered into an exchange project with a group of volunteers from a community garden project in Auxi-le-Chateau in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.

They are called ‘Les Popotes Papotent’ – or the ‘chattering pans’, and we have already had long-distance meetings via video-call to get to know each other, swap and share ideas.

Although we have had to put our exchange visits on hold for the time being, we hope the group can eventually come to Ipswich, and that we can visit them too – especially as Ipswich is twinned with the region’s capital of Arras!


ActivLives Badminton Group enjoy success in London SW19!

Members of the ActivLives Inclusive Badminton group had a great day recently representing Suffolk at the Special Olympics Regional Tournament which was held in Wimbledon.

Just up the road from the All England Tennis Club, this singles badminton tournament was held for the very first time in the famous SW19 area of South London.

The ActivLives/Special Olympics Suffolk group consisted of nine players competing for the medals across the various divisions. They were joined by competitors from a variety of Special Olympics groups including Wimbledon, Southampton, Exeter and the Isle of Wight.

“This tournament is a very welcome addition to the Special Olympics calendar”, said Mike McCarthy, from ActivLives, and Coach to the Suffolk group. “It has been brilliant for our players to play at such a prestigious venue, against opponents, many of whom, they hadn’t competed against before”. 

The Suffolk team did the county proud by winning a number of medals including two Golds won by Donna Wyatt and Harry Creasey, who both topped their respective divisions.

The team completed a great day by taking part in the Team Relay event, a competition that puts all of the competitors into mixed teams across all of the abilities and groups represented on the day.

If you would like to get involved with Inclusive Special Olympics Badminton in Suffolk (the group is based in Ipswich), please contact Mike McCarthy at or call on 01473 345350.


Keeping active whilst in lock down can be challenging but at least we are able to go out once a day.


If you are safe to do so either unaided or with mobility aids try and go for a walk even if it just down the road and back. Please adhere to guidelines and stay 2 metres away from anybody and do it at a quiet time of day. Walking strengthens your lower body and can improve your balance and also whilst the sun is out you can get some Vitamin D as well.

If we do not exercise our muscles weaken which could cause you to lose your balance and put you at risk of falling.  The exercises are going to strengthen your lower body to help prevent that from happening. Wear comfortable clothing and sturdy footwear whilst doing the exercises.

The ability to stand up from a chair makes a huge difference in everyday life for seniors, it helps with essential activities like getting out of a chair and getting out of bed. That is why the sit to stand exercise is probably the best mobility exercise for seniors. The exercise strengthens legs,core and back and improves balance.

(A) Sit towards the front of a sturdy armless chair with knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip width apart.
(B) Stand up using your legs looking forward and not down until you are standing upright. If needed you can use your arms to push off the chair.
(C) Slowly sit down pushing your hips back so you go bottom first.

Aim for 8 repetitions but only do what you can so that maybe more or less. Control the action in both directions.

Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability.
Lift both heels off the floor as far as is comfortable at a controlled speed.
To make this exercise harder perform without support.

As we age, our balance declines if it is not practiced and can cause falls.Try these and see how you get on.

In a standing position,place one hand against the wall to maintain balance.Start walking forwards slowly with your feet moving heel to toe as if you are on a tightrope.Look directly ahead as you walk in a straight line.As you become better at this try it without a point of contact.

Stand with feet together and arms relaxed at your side.Hold onto a chair for support if needed.
Bend one knee to lift the foot slightly off the ground and balance with your other leg.
Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with other leg.

Stand with feet together and arms relaxed at your side.Hold onto a chair for support if needed.
Raise your left arm overhead and raise your left leg forward and off the floor.
Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with other leg.

With all of the exercises only do what you can manage and a little is better than nothing, and stop immediately if you experience any pain, discomfort, dizziness or feel faint.