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Brighter Futures Together

Hedworth Community Garden

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Hedworth Community Garden
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01. Summary

In early 2010, Hedworth Residents Association applied the Brighter Futures Together toolkit to a practical project to improve their community garden.

Discussion took place with staff at Hedworth Detached Youth Project to explore the possibility of young people becoming involved in the project. After a couple of meetings between residents and staff, a group of young people met with the Residents Association expressing their interest in becoming involved in improving the community garden.

02. Outline

Hedworth is in Jarrow, South Tyneside and has a population of approximately 3,000. It is in the ‘top 10′ most deprived neighbourhoods (Index of Multiple Deprivation). Neighbourhood consultation and engagement started in 2006, and an action plan was developed and a multi-agency partnership subsequently established. Hedworth Residents Association has been active for approximately 10 years.

The community bungalow and garden has been a dedicated community space since 1960’s. Current uses include Hedworth Residents Association, Ward Councillor surgeries, ladies bingo groups, a mini-hub for community consultations, and community events. Funding for the maintainence of the community garden ran out and improvements were continued by one of the residents. In 2009, this stopped and no one looked after the garden.

Sessions were organised to carry out some work to improve the community garden. Some activities involved both the association and the youth project, while other activities were carried out by the youth project independently.

Activities included

  • A tree planting event in memory of one of the residents.
  • A series of short, sharp ‘tidy ups’.
  • Plants and materials purchased by the residents association
  • Half-term weeding activity by the youth project.
  • A community ‘tidy up’ was organised in October but was cancelled due to bad weather.
  • Activity in the community garden was placed in hibernation until Spring 2011.

Plans for the future included:

  • Formalise a maintenance programme for the garden by spring 2011.
  • Establish a mini service level agreement with the young people.
  • Agree a ‘reward’ system for the work carried out.
  • Identify funding sources to continue the maintenance.
  • Organise a community ‘tidy up’ in spring 2011, using it to recruit new members to the association.
  • Take advantage of refurbishments to the community bungalow to organise sessions with the young people around other elements in the Brighter Futures Together toolkit.
  • Link the development of the garden to wider environmental improvements proposed by the Hedworth Neighbourhood Partnership. Utilise garden and bungalow to be the focal point of any developments.

The project was a huge success with vast improvements to a neglected piece of land improving the local streetscape and volunteers from the resident’s association and the youth project carrying out the work. Other benefits from the project included:

  • Young people initially thought they would not be welcomed by the wider community. The residents used part of the RIEP funding and donated it to the youth project for the work they had completed. This surprised the young people and helped to improve relations.
  • There was initial resistance from the young people but once they got into the work, there was lots of enthusiasm and the group turned up regularly on Saturday mornings and even during bad weather.
  • The group are enthusiastic to continue the project with the residents, having suggested developments such as a vegetable plot and fruit trees.
  • Youth workers were pleased to see that a challenging group of young people showed a level of commitment to the project.
  • Youth workers were please to see a small change in the attitudes of the young people and the development of intergenerational activities.

03. Costs & Funding

A small grant of £750 was provided by the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP), South Tyneside Council provided support from a community development worker and youth workers, and South Tyneside Homes provided support from a housing officer.

04. Timescales

Hedworth Resident’s Association was approached in early 2010 to pilot the Brighter Futures Together toolkit. A series of meetings took place to discuss the toolkit and decide on which project to focus on, as well as the additional discussions between the resident’s association and the youth project. Activity started during the summer and ended at the start of winter in 2010.

05. Lessons Learned

  • Structured and formal arrangements between the residents association and the youth group would have been effective in addressing some of misunderstandings about the project.
  • An unexpected turnover of youth workers meant the implantation of the project was delayed. Workers required time to build up trust and relationships with the young people in order to encourage them to participate in the project.
  • Residents felt that they benefited from having a development worker to support them to link up with the youth project. A series of meetings were required to encourage both parties to participate. The community development worker “kept things on track when we were distracted by other things”.
  • Discussions were also required with the residents to challenge their perceptions and expectations of the young people.

06. Contacts

For further information about this project, please contact Mike Linsley, Assistant Head of Neighbourhoods at South Tyneside Council.





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