Where is this and who and how did it start?
Instead of having one community growing space in Beighton – in the south east of Sheffield – our Community Growers Co-ordinator took another approach. She arranged a series of seasonal sessions with Beighton Childminders, Precious Playgroup and Beighton Tenants and Residents Association (TARA). She consulted with the existing and established groups and they decided that would prefer to hold regular learning sessions.
What did the project do?
At Precious Playgroup (held at the Limes Community Centre) we spoke with the staff to identify what edible flowers, herbs and fruit they would like to grow and use in their kitchen. From this we developed several sessions to sow seeds, plant herbs and strawberries. The volunteers from the group have now undertaken further gardening work with support from Wickes store.
Working alongside Beighton TARA we initially held some sessions in their community garden which included weeding, herb and strawberry planting. The group identified a need to develop new initiatives and activities, in particular the need for older people to improve their existing diet whilst also encouraging social interaction.
Our CG Co-ordinator also worked with Westfield school and in June 2012 orchestrated a discussion between the School and the TARA to see if they could work together. Both were keen and it was agreed to develop the cafe for older people in the community, with young people helping out with the running of the cafe.
We created a flyer about the café and used our existing networks at the Luncheon Club, the TARA and Beighton Villages Development Trust to advertise the café. We also promoted the café via Voluntary Action Sheffield and Age UK. Our press release was distributed to local media and we also used Grow Sheffield’s communication networks via the website and on twitter.
How successful was it?
Some elderly people felt nervous of local younger people and this project offers a solution by allowing the generations to interact in an informal environment, thus potentially reducing negative misconceptions by both age groups. This led to us seeking further funding and we were successful in applying for a grant from the Reducing Isolation Fund which providing an opportunity to work with a local school to create a weekly ‘pop in café’ and gardening group aimed at older people.
Our Community Growers Co-ordinator said –
‘’This was a fantastic way to bring together young and older people from the local community – the young students from Westfield School even indicated that they wish to stay involved with the group, even though their time at school is coming to an end! The project has brought the young people and others in the local community together, and demonstrated how they can improve the local environment.’’
All of the people attending the café have now become regular users and the group has really gelled well together. It was always our aim for the group to take ownership of the café and this they have started to do. The group is still meeting on a Friday afternoon and we have recently been successful in gaining further funding to continue the pop in café project.
The event set up by Beighton Tenants and Residents Association (TARA). For Year 11 students from Westfield School to improve their employability, and managed by the CG Co-ordinator, was a particular success. The Sheffield Futures staff said that some of the children had described the evening as one of “the best nights ever” at the club.
What have we learned?
It took longer than expected to get the café off the ground, however; this was due to the time of year (winter) that we started the project and the poor weather. The project was aimed at older people so many of them felt would not come out in bad weather conditions.
The publicity for the cafe did not initially generate the numbers we were anticipating. We found that “word of mouth” seemed to be the most successful way of promoting the initiative. In January the young people involved in the café spent the afternoon with our Community Grower going out in the community and putting flyers through post boxes and delivering more to the local agencies eg Doctors Surgery/Dentist. This generated some more interest and the numbers have since increased to 11 regular users.
We learned that starting in the winter months was not the best time to start such a project and that also the publicity material needed to go wider.