A major new scheme to enable two communities in Adur and Worthing to improve their health and wellbeing by involvement in environmental schemes is being launched this weekend.
The free Growing Communities initiative will encourage residents in disadvantaged areas to take part in projects such as planting trees and digging ponds in ‘green gyms’, community orchards, sporting activities, or food growing programmes using disused or redundant patches of land.
Northbrook in Worthing and Eastbrook in Adur have been chosen, with the first launch event on Saturday November 4 at Northbrook Barn between 11am-2pm, while the second is at Eastbrook Manor Community Centre on Sunday November 5 between the same times.
The scheme is backed and part-funded by Adur and Worthing Councils, who will also give park ranger time to the project.
A team of newly-recruited officers working for national charity The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) will enable local people to involve themselves in projects to improve their health and wellbeing while learning environmental conservation skills.
Studies have shown that exposure to green spaces, particularly in urban environments, can play a significant part in promoting good physical health and mental wellbeing.
Now the TCV team are setting themselves an ambitious target of talking to at least 20 per cent of the populations of both wards, some 1,250 people, to find out the sorts of schemes the communities want and then supporting them to bring their ideas to life.
In Eastbrook people will be asked what should be done with a fenced garden area near Eastbrook Manor Community Centre, while in Northbrook residents will discuss establishing a community apple orchard.
Wildlife walks and walking football taster sessions will also be on offer and discussions will also take place about the possibility of a number of other community fruit and vegetable growing areas.
John Haigh, operation leader for Growing Communities in Adur and Worthing said: “We can’t wait for the launch. Already we have had a great response and so many ideas from the people we have spoken to.
“I would urge as many people as possible who live in Northbrook and Eastbrook to come along and find out what we could make happen over the next three years. There’s no obligation but we hope people will be inspired by what they see and hear.”
TCV schemes elsewhere in the country have shown significant results in improving physical health and mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and increased life satisfaction as well as transforming green spaces.
At the weekend those attending will hear the feedback from a two-year consultation that TCV has already conducted in the two areas.
Cllr Dave Simmons, Adur District Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “I wish TCV and local residents good luck as this scheme gets under way. The council will help in any way we can because the benefits for health and for our environment are clear.”
His counterpart at Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Val Turner added: “I think this is a great scheme and I urge residents to give it a go. The benefits of working, playing and growing in green spaces is well proven.”
For more information email senior project officer Beth Osmond: firstname.lastname@example.org or operations leader John Haigh at email@example.com
Q&A WITH GROWING COMMUNITIES’ JOHN HAIGH
q) So tell us why people should come along at the weekend?
a) People should come along to get a better understanding of the Growing Communities project and what the project could potentially achieve. Feed into the project at an early stage and shape its development. Meet the Growing Communities project staff team and current partner agencies.
q) Do I need any special skills or abilities?
a) Enthusiasm and commitment to making your community a healthy and happier place are the key criteria for getting involved. We are committed to ensuring that all that want to get involved can do and as such will provide training and mentoring support to those that are interested.
q) What sorts of schemes might they eventually be involved in?
a) That’s a difficult question to answer as the projects and activities delivered will be identified, developed and delivered by the local communities. Our consultation so far has suggested that activities will include: Green Gyms, Health and Nature Walks, community gardens, community allotments, Community events, sports coaching, and family activity sessions.
q) What are the benefits of being involved?
a) The opportunity to shape a project that will have the following benefits:
People are proud of their community and the place they live in
Green spaces are better quality with activities that reflect local community need and therefore used by a greater diversity of people.
People learn to make lasting changes to improve their health and reduce ill-health
People’s confidence and self-esteem increases as they see the results of their efforts
Improved life and employment skills
Meet new people
Reduce social isolation