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Call to residents: improve our green spaces and improve your health

Released: Wednesday, 01 November 2017

The Conservation Volunteers charity (TCV) logo

A major new scheme to enable two communities to improve their health and wellbeing by involvement in environmental schemes is launched this weekend.

In a ground-breaking initiative Growing Communities will encourage local residents in disadvantaged areas to involve themselves in projects such as planting trees and digging ponds in 'Green Gyms', community orchards, sporting activities or food growing programmes utilising disused or redundant patches of land.

Residents in Northbrook in Worthing and Eastbrook in Adur have been chosen for the project and a special launch will take place this weekend to invite as many people along to understand what is possible. The scheme is backed and part-funded by Adur and Worthing Councils who will also give park ranger time to the scheme.

A team of newly-recruited officers working for national charity The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) will enable local people to involve themselves in projects to improve their health and wellbeing while learning environmental conservation skills.

Studies have shown that exposure to green spaces, particularly in urban environments, can play a significant part in promoting good physical health and mental wellbeing.

Now the TCV team are setting themselves an ambitious target of talking to at least 20 per cent of the populations of both wards, some 1,250 people, to find out the sorts of schemes the communities want and then supporting them to bring their ideas to life.

While Growing Communities is a project that enables residents to suggest the sorts of schemes they want some possible activities will be unveiled at the launches at the weekend.

In Eastbrook people will be asked what should be done with a fenced garden area near Eastbrook Manor community centre and in Northbrook residents will discuss establishing a community apple orchard.

Wildlife walks and Walking Football taster sessions will also be on offer and discussions will also take place about the possibility of a number of other community fruit and vegetable growing areas.

John Haigh, Operation Leader for Growing Communities in Adur and Worthing said:

“We can't wait for the launch. Already we have had a great response and so many ideas from the people we have spoken to.

“I would urge as many people as possible who live in Northbrook and Eastbrook to come along and find out what we we could make happen over the next three years. There's no obligation but we hope people will be inspired by what they see and hear.”

TCV schemes elsewhere in the country have shown significant results in improving physical health and mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and increased life satisfaction as well as transforming green spaces.

At the weekend those attending will hear the feedback from a two-year consultation that TCV has already conducted in the two areas.

Adur District Council's Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Dave Simmons said:

“I wish TCV and local residents good luck as this scheme gets under way. The council will help in any way we can because the benefits for health and for our environment are clear.”

His counterpart at Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Val Turner said:

“I think this is a great scheme and I urge residents to give it a go. The benefits of working, playing and growing in green spaces is well proven.”

The first launch event is on Saturday 4th November 2017 at Northbrook Barn between 11am and 2pm and the second at Eastbrook Manor community centre on Sunday 5th November 2017 between the same times.

For more information contact:

ENDS

Q&A With Growing Communities' John Haigh:

So tell us why people should come along at the weekend

People should come along to get a better understanding of the Growing Communities project and what the project could potentially achieve. Feed into the project at an early stage and shape its development. Meet the Growing Communities project staff team and current partner agencies.

Do I need any special skills or abilities?

Enthusiasm and commitment to making your community a healthy and happier place are the key criteria for getting involved. We are committed to ensuring that all that want to get involved can do and as such will provide training and mentoring support to those that are interested.

What sorts of schemes might they eventually be involved in?

That's a difficult question to answer as the projects and activities delivered will be identified, developed and delivered by the local communities. Our consultation so far has suggested that activities will include: Green Gyms, Health and Nature Walks, community gardens, community allotments, Community events, sports coaching, and family activity sessions.

What are the benefits of being involved?

The opportunity to shape a project that will have the following benefits:

Photos: The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) in action

PR17-151 - TCV in action - planting trees

PR17-151 - TCV in action - cutting trees and undergrowth

(PR17-151)

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