“We have been really fortunate to receive a grant from the B&Q Foundation to help us transform this overgrown eye-sore into a wonderful urban garden. Once finished it will be a quiet, green and therapeutic space that everyone can enjoy,” said Lynne Livsey, the charity’s Head of Prevention services.
As soon as Lynne joined the charity, in 2020, she made a bee-line for the waste land outside of the homelessness drop-in.
“It’s a sadly neglected space at the back of our building that has become a dumping ground for discarded masks, cans, bottles and rubbish.
“It’s such a shame because the inside of our lovely Basis Hub is a bright and welcoming space. After lots of lunchtime litter-picking, we decided that enough was enough and it was time for a drastic make-over!”
National DIY chain B&Q supplied a generous £5,000 grant to help the charity garden take shape.
It’s not just B&Q who have backed the urban garden project, the team have found warm community support from Gateshead Council, Big Local Gateshead, Handcrafted and Orangutan Arb.
“It’s humbling and heart-warming! Gateshead Council are helping us to clear the space and Suzanne Amey from Big Local Gateshead has donated plants to get us started. Our friends at Handcrafted have made and donated some amazing planters from recycled pallets and Orangutan Orb have donated wood chippings and tree stumps to be upcycled into stools.”
Basis Gateshead is the site of one of Oasis Community Housing’s drop-ins and the main base for the Aspire project, who support people into employment and training. The team invited people who are supported through this project to get involved at every stage of creating and developing the garden.
“Our Aspire programme participants are involved in every aspect of the project, from putting together the mood-board for the garden, choosing plants, building and planting up raised beds and digging borders, painting furniture and bird boxes, and looking after the plants.”
The team are thinking of the long term and ensuring the garden is environmentally sound, building sustainability and recycling elements into the garden from the outset.
The team have big plans for a horticultural project in the future but for now the garden will be a welcome place to relax and take a breath for staff and those visiting the drop-in and Aspire project.
Lynne added: “It will be a symbol of hope and renewal, a mini oasis in an urban jungle. It’s an important marker of recovery in so many ways as we walk with the people that we support out of the seemingly endless lockdowns and into the sunshine at last. It will make my heart sing every time I walk into the office and I’m beyond proud and excited by the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone involved.”