One year on: Growing Communities celebrates its first year with festive community event

Party guests at the Growing Communities celebration event. Photo credit - Paul Mansfield

More than 100 locals braved driving rain and strong winds to come out in support of a celebratory event to mark Growing Communities’ first birthday last weekend.

The party guests were treated to a circus performance, face painting, festive arts and crafts and hula hooping. There was even a visit from Father Christmas with mince pies and mulled wine.

The Growing Communities scheme was set up to help communities improve their health and wellbeing through the use of parks and public open spaces. It has been operating for a year across Eastbrook (Adur) and Northbrook (Worthing) and is run by national organisation The Conservation Volunteers (TCV).

It is primarily funded by the Big Lottery Fund with support from Adur & Worthing Councils, who have donated officer time and given access to land and buildings.

The celebration was organised in partnership with community group the Eastbrook Explorers and helped to showcase Eastbrook Manor Community Centre to residents and local groups.

Local resident Norman Turner taught attendees how to paint a watercolour landscape and Sussex Clubs for Young People ran a reindeer food station, for youngsters to collect treats ready to set out on Christmas Eve. Local circus company Circus PaZaz and Vida Active hosted fitness sessions for youngsters and adults alike.

Youngsters also submitted their entries for an ‘Arts in Parks’ competition during the event, bringing along collages and pictures of their local park in the winter. All of the entries are displayed on the Growing Communities’ Facebook page and voting will continue until Thursday 20th December when the winners will be announced.

John Haigh, Operations Leader for Growing Communities, said:

“We were delighted to celebrate our first birthday with such a successful event. Many of the attendees stayed for several hours enjoying all the activities, meeting friends and making new ones. They also appreciated the range of activities on offer, which reflected what they had asked for during the last year’s consultation.”

Since its inception, Growing Communities has gone from strength to strength. Its programme of free activities over the past year has included green gyms, bushcrafting, an array of arts and crafts activities, and innovative fitness programmes including hula hooping and ‘Town to Downs’ walks.

Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing at Adur District Council, Councillor David Simmons, said:

“We’ve been really impressed by the scheme so far, and it’s been wonderful to see residents and groups across Eastbrook and Northbrook come together to celebrate its first year.”

Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services, Councillor Edward Crouch, said:

“Growing Communities offer so many valuable opportunities for residents to help improve their wellbeing and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring!”

The celebratory event followed on from a busy programme of free winter activities, with more promised in the New Year.

To find out more about Growing Communities and their free activities in 2019, go to the Growing Communities Facebook page to sign up to their mailing list. You can also view the Growing Communities page on the TCV website.

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