Innovation Fund Feedback from our friends at Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA)
HCGA was awarded the Innovation Fund to support volunteers to facilitate local trips out for residents during the winter period. The project commenced on the 3rd April 2018.
The project ran a series of trips targeted at our socially isolated and vulnerable volunteers as well as local people who are socially isolated. HCGA advertised the trips to their existing volunteers and anyone that had inquired about volunteering. They also sent the programme out to local organisations that support socially isolated and vulnerable people such as Turning Point, St Mungo’s and West London Mental Health Trust.
The project ran over the winter months (Dec-March) when the weather and temperatures prevent many of their regular activities from taking place. HCGA organised a series of trips to nature related places in London which included: The Wetlands Centre, Kew Gardens, The Wellcome Collection, Hammersmith riverside walk, Kensington Palace Gardens, The Garden Museum and Osterley Park.
All trips included a short walk and some trips included a longer walk e.g. Osterley Park or the Hammersmith Riverside Walk. This played a key role in improving the health of the participants as they engaged in some physical activity.
The money from the fund enabled a mixture of existing volunteers and local people to attend the various trips, which included paying the admission fees, the travel for the volunteers and buying the group lunch and a hot drink in the cafe at each attraction.
HCGA advertised two walks run by Urbanwise.London to their volunteers and contacts, many of whom attended the event. They also ran two taster days for the Men in Sheds and Get Out There! Programmes. These were attended by some of the trip participants, who have since gone on to volunteer regularly.
HCGA had approximately 22 individuals attend their winter trips and 5 participants have gone on to join their weekly volunteer sessions.
“The project has successfully reduced the social isolation of the participants as it has given them the opportunity to engage with HCGA in the quieter winter months through fulfilling trips to places in London they may not have been to before. The lunch and hot drink in the cafe at each attraction brought the group together and gave individuals the opportunity to bond”.
“Participants enjoyed visiting places in London they had not been to before. The ticket price of attractions such as Kew Gardens or the Wetlands Centre is a barrier to people on low incomes and although many of the participants live very near to these places they had not been before”.
“We would definitely repeat this programme next winter as it has improved the engagement of many isolated individuals. We would like to work more closely with organisations such as Turning Point, St Mungo’s and West London Mental Health Trust to ensure we had more isolated and vulnerable individuals referred to us and participating in the programme”.