A Day Volunteering at Hawthorn's GlasGrow Urban Community Garden
Last month several members of our team were out at Hawthorn Housing Co-operative’s ‘GlasGrow’ an urban community garden in Possilpark, Glasgow. Hawthorn Housing Co-operative have been a partner since SPA were formed in 2016. They are recognised as being a vital part of the community, known for working collaboratively with other community support organisations to transform the lives of the people who live in Possilpark and drive the regeneration of the district. They are an integral part of the community and continue to find innovative routes of interacting with the people through a wide variety of community projects including coffee mornings, family fun days, and seasonal and festive activities in a bid to bring the community together and encourage engagement, friendships and to get people active.
GlasGrow is an urban community garden in Possilpark, it’s in a unique location tucked away behind a mixture of houses. If you didn’t know it was there or were not familiar with the area you would easily bypass it. This gives the feeling of a secluded, calm and peaceful garden protected from the challenges of everyday life. It’s a popular spot with the locals. Hawthorn Housing Co-Operative along with the Hawthorn Community Action Group host three sessions every week for local adults and children. The activity sessions are arranged to encourage collaboration, learning and most importantly to explore the outdoors and be more active with the aim of bringing the community together while growing fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The work the Hawthorn team do further extends to engaging with local youth groups in a bid to divert anti-social behaviour by providing activities that captivate interest and encourage a sense of ownership and pride.
The ‘GlasGrow’ community garden has been part funded through the SPA Community Benefit Fund. Since it was set up in 2017 the SPA Community Benefit Fund has supported 73 projects, invested £1.25 million back into the community and sourced match funding to the value of £589,000 bringing the total amount invested in local Scottish communities to a staggering £3.1 million. As a not-for-profit organisation, any surplus is re-distributed back into the SPA Community Benefit Fund. The fund has supported a wide variety of inspiring projects and has led to some ground-breaking and award-winning community initiatives such as community gardens, food pantries, mental health support, digital and social inclusion services. Fourteen executive board members are eligible to apply for a share of the £140,000 fund. The CBF is managed and distributed by Lintel Trust and eligibility for funding is measured using the recommended community benefits outlined in the Procurement (Scotland) Act 2014.
The challenge that Hawthorn Housing Co-operative was facing was the accessibility restrictions of the gardens. The current terrain was unsuitable for wheelchair users to access the garden and this was a problem for several community members. We knew of Hawthorn Housing Co-operative’s plans to extend the path and improve accessibility for people with mobility issues. This resonated with us and due to the relationship built through Hawthorn’s use ofthe SPA Community Benefit Fund, we felt part of the journey so we were unanimously in favour of using our annual volunteering day to provide the additional support that the Co-Operative was desperately needing.
The team got stuck in from the outset, we were involved with a multitude of tasks including transporting and spreading the type 1 subbase and other aggregates, compressing the aggregates using the plate compactor, building and repairing planters, installing trellis panels to the memorial garden, and clearing existing bins and planting fresh vegetation. After we had finished for the day, we had an awards ceremony to recognise the hardest-working individuals. Despite the difficult manual labour we had a great time helping out at ‘GlasGrow’ it was a very enjoyable experience and most importantly our best efforts were recognised as we managed to make a clear difference to the garden.
The path has been compacted and the terrain is much smoother and more suitable for wheelchair users with the extension of the path allowing for more users to access most areas of the garden now, the memorial garden is complete, the bins have been cleared and can now safely be used for vegetation and there are more planters available that can be used for flowers or vegetation.