Volunteers at a community garden project in Walsall are celebrating after securing National Lottery money totalling £360,313 through the Big Lottery Fund.
Five years ago, the Goscote Greenacres Community Garden project was set up by Walsall Council Adult Social Care service in partnership with Walsall Adult Community College to support adults with physical and learning disabilities, as well as address issues such as isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly.
The site is also used by residents, school groups and others from social care and inclusion communities to encourage local people who share common interests and experiences to grow their own produce by coming together in a safe, interesting and social environment.
Until now, the project has received its funding direct from the local authority. With support from the Big Lottery Fund now guaranteed, the committee that oversees the initiative can now move forward with its plans to further develop the grounds surrounding the Goscote Centre, including:
- maximising the site and ensuring all 42 plots are occupied by local residents and groups
- continue with its volunteer scheme; currently 17 volunteers work on site, 14 of whom have a registered disability
- provide work experience opportunities to local people
- maintain fishing rights with disabled access to the adjacent Wyrley and Essington Canal
- generate revenue by selling locally grown produce in the farm shop
- introduce a local vegetable box scheme for people who are housebound or have poor mobility
- work in partnership with the Goscote Centre to help maintain walkways and provide educational sessions on horticulture for the benefit of adults with complex learning disabilities.
The Council is now working with the Project partners to establish the project's next steps.
Councillor Diane Coughlan, Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for social care and inclusion said: “This is wonderful news and I'd like to thank officers who worked hard to prepare the bid to secure the National Lottery money through the Big Lottery Fund.
"We would never have reached the stage we're at without the support of numerous volunteers who have given up their time. I'm confident that the project can now move forward and enrich the lives of our residents who use and support the service.
"We hope that the Goscote Greenacres Community Garden project is a model that can be replicated in other communities with similar issues."
James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: "Great community projects like Goscote Greenacres Community Garden are what National Lottery funding is all about.
"We can see how the money raised by players for good causes helps to bring ideas to life and gives local people the opportunity to work hard for the good of their community.
"Whether from a village, town or city, we're proud that our funding supports people who have identified what matters to them and their community and who want to make a positive change."