Innovation Fund Feedback from our friends at Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA)
HCGA was awarded the Innovation Fund to run a series of workshops and trips during the winter months that were attended by HCGA volunteers and other local people.
A large percentage of HCGA volunteers have mental or physical health problems, are long-term unemployed and socially isolated. HCGA produced leaflets and posters with the programme information and distributed these locally, including to their contacts at local organisations such as Turning Point, St Mungo’s and West London Mental Health Trust.
HCGA ran six trips to the following location: The Wetlands Centre, Hampstead Heath, Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum, College Lake Nature Reserve in Buckinghamshire, Walthamstow Wetlands and Kew Gardens. They also delivered four workshops: pruning, grafting, willow weaving and bat box making as well a bat walk.
HCGA reported that the sessions were very well attended by a cross-section of their current volunteers, people referred to them from other organisations and the local community. Some trips ran with over 20 people attending. As a result of this, HCGA have recruited some new volunteers.
As well as increasing attendee’s knowledge of wildlife, the sessions have created excellent opportunities for people to mix and HCGA reported seeing the relationships between volunteers strengthen as well as new friendships formed.
HCGA said that they had three key workers from other organisations bring clients and they were then able to see first-hand the work that HCGA do. As a result of this, they have agreed to start signposting clients to HCGA volunteer sessions.
HCGA fed back “We have had 65 attendees on the events, with many people attending several events. Many events had 15-20 people attending, much more than anticipated. We sent out flyers to contacts at local organisations such as Turning Point, St Mungo’s and West London Mental Health Trust. We would like to have had more individuals join us from these organisations and perhaps making links with the key workers in advance of this project would have led to more referrals. We were really pleased that local, socially-isolated individuals attended the walks and workshops. Having lunch as a group was an easy way to get participants talking to each other and relationships were either formed or strengthened as a part of this”.
In terms of plans for the future, HCGA said “We would like to build better links with referral agencies to make sure those attendees on the walks and workshops are our target group of socially-isolated local residents”.
HCGA reported that two volunteers feel they would like to continue social events such as these and would be happy to lead them. HCGA said have purchased some very cheap tickets to a forthcoming QPR football match and a group of volunteers are going together. HCGA will continue to try and source tickets to events such as these through charity schemes.