Groundwork has launched the Groundwork Community Awards as a way of honouring small community groups making a big difference to everyone’s quality of life in their local area and to celebrate and reward groups who often get little recognition and support.
Groundwork will be unveiling the winners at an awards ceremony on 2 November 2017 in London, attended by ActivGardens Development Manager Susannah Robirosa and ActivGardens Project Co-ordinator Danny Thorrington.
The People’s Community Garden was set up almost 10 years ago on a neglected corner of an allotment site at the heart of the most disadvantaged area of Ipswich. The vision was to provide a community resource to get people of all ages out into the fresh air, doing something active, growing/ harvesting their own food, participating in volunteering and learning new skills, as well as bringing people together to build a more vibrant, resilient community.
In 2011, we opened a second project – Chantry Walled Garden – in a disused area of a public park on the fringes of a large housing estate as a training facility for young people with complex needs / chaotic lifestyles.
We then set up a beekeeping project as a skills share initiative between older and younger people. Three years later we renovated a disused pavilion as a community hub, where we cook simple, healthy meals with our produce and extend our reach into the local community at our monthly produce markets.
In 2014 we formed a ‘Men in Sheds’ group, to work on construction and DIY projects, addressing loneliness in older men.
ActivGardens have encouraged Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic participation and promoted inclusion and multi-culturalism. We have assisted a number of BAME people to obtain their own plot either with us or on the wider site, encouraged them to attend and stalls at our events, and worked with Suffolk Refugee Support Forum to organise group visits, multi-cultural feasts and encourage people to take part in volunteering. We supplied veg packs to welcome Syrian refugee families to Ipswich — a diverse town where more than 70 languages are spoken. We have helped BAME people understand how to grow and cook traditional English produce.
Last year, 88 people volunteered at ActivGardens, amounting to more than 10,000 hours of healthful activity. Our garden projects got more than 400 primary school children active in the open air, growing, harvesting and cooking healthy meals. We completed an ambitious project to build a garden for older people with neurological conditions, such as Dementia, improving access and installing gardening bays for wheelchair users. More than 1,000 people attended open days, events, activities and training courses.
A regular volunteer says: “Since coming to ActivGardens I have been reborn. I was an alcoholic but I am now learning how to live a normal life and socialise with people. From the moment I met the team, I felt comfortable, at home and welcomed. I don’t feel judged. I enjoy it all, every day is different – groundwork, landscaping, weeding, planting … and not forgetting watering!
“I like interacting with people, having a laugh and joke.I feel better outside, keeping fit, helping others, and I have learnt to share and listen and accept other people’s opinions. Activgardens has given me somewhere to go and belong in the week.
“And I have achieved my personal goal of getting my own allotment! I am using my new gardening skills and knowledge.”
Watch this space to find out if we have won!