The Garden Project
This project sought to tackle two issues in tandem. On the one hand, we established a project whereby young people could learn specific and important skills which might move them closer to the job market – in this case learning how to care for and enhance gardens. On the other hand, this project aided in helping individuals who, on their own, may have been unable to take care of – and therefore enjoy spending time in – their own gardens. Another result of this project was to bring members of the community closer together who may not have otherwise come into contact with one another.
History and Research
Our research and consultation with individuals in Wolverhampton, as well as community and support groups, highlighted the side-effects that a loss of mobility can have on an individual’s life. They found that many people in the community can struggle to maintain their gardens all year round, as seasons change, and that this problem can increase and grow bit-by-bit.
By using our tried-and-tested method we had developed from working on previous projects which helped the vulnerable and disadvantaged, we decided to move our work into the space of gardens. In doing so, we also tapped into a quintessentially English phenomenon – relaxing and reminiscing in a picturesque garden. Furthermore, our consultation found that a major benefit of being able to enjoy recreation and relaxation in a garden can provide important physical and mental health benefits, and so our project was able to confront several issues at the same time.
For this project, we tapped into our extremely eager and highly equipped group of volunteers, taken from the Black Country Consortium and Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations. This not only ensured that we developed a team of people who were keen to be involved in a community project such as this, but that we had the crucial language skills necessary in order to access the significant Asian community we were aiming to help – which is especially important given that many elderly people can be cautious of receiving strangers into their homes.