The co-ordinator behind Sudbury’s Grow Your Community project believes the early success of the scheme has set a strong platform for creating communities who are proud of where they live.
The initiative is honouring its volunteers with a picnic event this week, in recognition of their work over the last six months at Belle Vue Park, green spaces and housing estates in and around Sudbury and Great Cornard.
Led by the local ActivLives charity and working alongside Suffolk County Council, Babergh District Council and existing groups like Greener Sudbury and The Bridge Project, the scheme’s goal is to help people be more active, learn new skills and form social networks as they contribute to the community.
Project co-ordinator Dan Wheals said: “Because we are six months in, it’s a really great time to say thank you to our volunteers. We have got 12 to 15 regular volunteers, which is great – they turn up every week and work really hard.
“What’s great about Belle Vue is that people really seem to value the park, and we can see their efforts being appreciated by passers-by.
“We are trying also to help them to make new friends and feel good about themselves. That’s the focus, and we are using nature and gardening to achieve that.”
The long-term ambition of the project, Mr Wheals explained, is to establish more flexible volunteering groups that operate in their community with a level of autonomy, as well as provide more opportunities for people who may be facing challenges or disadvantages.
“There could be a scheme for gardening on prescription, where people with mental health needs or physical wellbeing needs are offered the option to join in with a group transform a part of the community,” he added.
“It’s these friendships that are part of the road to recovery. We want to help tackle isolation.”
For more information, call ActivLives on 01473 345350.