A scheme that helps residents with their wellbeing through work, rest and play in our green spaces is going from strength to strength.
Growing Communities, a sometimes literally groundbreaking project, has now worked with scores of residents in Northbrook in Worthing and Eastbrook in Fishersgate, helping them to thrive in open spaces and take control of their environment.
Woodland maintenance, Green Gyms, community orchard growing, wildlife walks, Tai Chi, and gardening are just some of the projects a growing number of local residents are joining to improve their own wellbeing and also enhance the local environment.
The Growing Communities scheme is run by a national group The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) with support from Adur and Worthing Councils who have donated officer time, land and buildings. It has been primarily funded by the Big Lottery Fund to the tune of £660,000 for its three-year life span.
Now Growing Communities is reaching out to even more citizens of Northbrook and Eastbrook asking them to come and join their neighbours in really making things happen.
Growing Communities’ Engagement Officer Gwenn Parker-Tregoat said, “My main duty is to engage the community and work out what they would like to do and how they can make it happen. The best way for people to engage is to turn up to an event which has already been organised, see whether they like it and hopefully embrace the benefits of it.
“So I’m asking everyone in the communities to get in touch with me to find out what we can do for them or just come along and join in,” says Gwen who runs a drop-in sessions every Tuesday where people can come and share ideas for projects and activities.
For example at Whitebeam Woods in Northbrook a team is currently working on the ground, finding small pockets in the undergrowth, turning the soil, a process called scalloping, so that wildflowers can begin to grow.
At Longcroft Park, the Growing Communities project is helping with a scheme involving Hawthorns Primary School and The Pines adult day care centre to build a community orchard.
In Eastbrook, with the help of Growing Communities, local residents have set up the Eastbrook Explorers offering walks everyone can join from the very young to the elderly. On their seafront ‘walk on wheels’ some children came on roller skates and elderly residents joined on their mobility scooters.
Every Thursday at Eastbrook Manor Community Centre, Growing Communities also runs a Gardening Tots group for mothers and under fives, and also a Green gym.
“Self-sufficiency is the end goal”
Growing Communities Operations Leader John Haigh said, “Local communities identify what projects we are going to deliver, we then work with them to deliver that project. The aim is that once funding runs out, we have ensured that local people have got the skills and capabilities to carry this on, and see the value of carrying this on which is the most important thing.”
Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing at Adur District Council, Cllr David Simmons, said, “The projects are examples of people coming together to put their local area on the map. With the help of TCV and the council, they become really impressive community assets which we hope will continue once funding ends. Self-sufficiency is the end goal and the community in Eastbrook should be proud of how it is doing.”
Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services, Cllr Edward Crouch said, “ I’m delighted we are supported this excellent project. It has been proved that people’s wellbeing is improved working or taking part in leisure activities out together in the environment.
“It also helps break down isolation which is a real issue. It’s just great to come out and see these people enjoying working in these woods and we get the benefit with the improvement on these green spaces.”
Get involved or find out more
To find out how to get involved with Growing Communities or to share your ideas for projects and activities, for Northbrook, see Gwenn at the drop-in sessions every Tuesday between 9.30am – 12 noon at Durrington Community Centre, 2 Romany Road.
For Eastbrook, drop-in sessions run every Wednesday between 1pm – 3pm at the Meet In Place on Laylands Road, and Thursday at Eastbrook Manor Community Centre between 9.30am and 12 noon.
To find out more about Growing Communities go to a new Facebook page