We are an East Riding of Yorkshire tenant community in Howden, many of the residents are elderly, some are disabled and some are classed as vulnerable. Garden maintenance on the communal land is restricted to fortnightly grass cutting only by the council, Just cutting... no edging, or taking the cut grass away. We began with the first lockdown in 2020 and the grass cutting teams stopped coming. Some of us who were able began cutting the grass to keep it tidy, from that we created beds for flowers and shrubs which now number about twelve, edges are neatly trimmed. The `before and after` is quite dramatic! A shed has been put in place for garden tools and a rather antiquated mower that get nursed along! In this day and age when mental heath has come to the fore the involvement and the pleasure given has been rewarding for those of us that have taken part, and immeasurable benefit for those now able to be able to go outside and close to their home or just admire the colorful display. But we have now come to the point of needing a new mower and strimmer and bits and pieces of garden equipment, for those we need help. (Photo's are available of the project)
…about, a garden project.
For our gardening project in Howden, the ball started rolling during the first lockdown when the council grass cutting teams were laid off, pretty soon the grassed areas were looking quite raggy and really untidy.
Co-incidentally a motor mower appeared at a local garden tool sale for a very modest sum which needed some (quite a lot really!) of TLC, it was eventually coaxed into life, and so began the self-care of the communal area. At this stage a small grant was applied for via the council and shrubs, bedding plants began to hit the soil. Some quite mature plants were donated from other tenants locally who had their own gardens, borders were cut, edged and dug out, and by the autumn of last year we had quite a passable display of colour to look out at, or just sit and enjoy. The grassed area needed nearly £80 worth of feed and weed and a specialized weed killer that wouldn’t kill the grass. The weed was extensive, grass cutting without collection of grass clippings for years (1974) has effectively spread the weed, so a lot of work was needed on that. Pleased to say the green stuff is looking quite lush now, some residents are almost tempted into calling it a lawn!
Getting rid of waste `sods` of grass into the appropriate bin made it quite heavy…we hid behind the curtains on brown bin collection day!
Borders were cut, flower beds created, twelve in total, two of which are rockery’s, some tenants have personalized these areas close to their flat, and so `taken ownership`. Of that particular `patch`.
I remember being on the Sheltered Housing Sub-Committee when the review was taking place a few years ago. As a tenant committee member ago, I, along with one or two council officers attended meetings with residents to explain the proposed changes. I visited about 10-12 sheltered housing estates in the East Riding. A couple of the sites I found really quite depressing, rows of bungalows lots of scruffy grassed areas, no colour, just blacks and greys, ” Reminded me of a visit to Russia and Eastern Europe in the seventies”, Oh what a difference some flowers and colour would have made!
However, getting back to the project, finding somewhere to store the tools, the mower and all the essential bits and pieces was a problem, flats just don`t have enough storage space, nor their own ground, so we had to look at erecting a shed…but on the communal ground, and that needed consent. Dealing with the council is often less than straight forward, so true to form there were a number of hoops to jump through and bridges to cross before the necessary permission was granted, which involved our tenacious Housing Officer and the help from Tenant Participation. Quite simple to do now that everybody knows the requirements, but at the time more than a little confusing!
The benefits to a nice garden area should not really need explaining, but just in case there might be any doubt, these are just some words that we think go towards describing our new surroundings… `pride` in our environment, `wellbeing`, `community`, `interest`, somewhere for the elderly and the vulnerable, and the disabled to sit out close to their home. For the council the positives are lower cost to maintain and a more desirable area so letting available properties becomes easier.
A project like this need’s commitment, but if I might say “As a complete amateur gardener, it has been (and still is) a huge learning curve… but so is the satisfaction of the pleasure given”.
Reg Number: 06455490 | Charity Number: 1125856