Flintshire's homeless create award-winning garden

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Staff reporter

HOMELESS people in Flintshire who transformed a garden and grew their own vegetables say their handiwork is a safe haven in which to reflect.

Residents at Greenbank Villas, Flint, who provide accommodation for homeless adults, built a patio, cleared weeds and planted vegetables in the two-day makeover.

Their greenfingered efforts earned them a National Sustainability Award at the annual Cymorth Cymru ‘Promoting Independence Awards.’

Residents say it is the perfect place to sit and reflect on their troubles.

One resident, who asked to remain nameless, said: “It’s a great to have a place to go to and I know I am safe here. If I want I can do some gardening or I can just sit and relax and think.

“There seems to be lots of ideas for special days in the garden doing all sorts. I like to be on my own but I might join in if there is plenty of space.”

Resident ‘Kevin’ added: “The garden is an open space that we need for the scheme. It’s a meeting place for residents and their family and friends and a nice place to sit and have a cup of tea.

“It’s very nice in the summer and I look forward to getting out there when the weather is better. We do a variety of things in the garden and have functions and barbecues, as well as growing our own veg like potatoes and tomatoes.

“We are working on improving the garden even more and are building a gazebo which will be a good space to read of play music because there is quite a large tree behind it which makes a nice sound when it’s a bit breezy.”

‘Jess’ calls it a good place to think and is looking forward to planting a rose bush.
Project officer at Greenbank, Kyle Trotter, says the garden is a focal point for residents who take great pride in their work.

“The project started in 2007 when people living at the project commented that the garden was a good size but it wasn’t very well used,” said Kyle.

“That year we planted some veg and we had a small crop that we could eat. The people involved really enjoyed it and got a good sense of pride out of it. The service users don’t just want a vegetable patch but a nice place to sit and do activities.

“In July 2008 we had the big makeover. People from all over Flintshire helped out and even local businesses.

"We basically transformed the garden in two days, and called it Ground Force day after the TV programme. We even had a garden tea party at the end of it.

“It has been ongoing since then which is why we have won this sustainabily award. Now we’re in the third year.

"It’s not all work and no play. Gardening has become a focal point at Greenbank and they enjoy the space and reflect.”

Next in the pipeline is a roof for the decked area and paving the back of the garden.

Aswell as learning about gardening at the scheme residents learn how to cook, budget and look for a job.

Go to www.clwydalyn.co.uk for more information on Greenbank Villas.

See full story in the Leader

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