Green Infrastructure Project Update - A green recovery
In our latest guest blog Robbie Forde of Urban Roots provides an update on a project which empowers local people to make lifestyle changes that are beneficial for them, their community and the environment. This is an ambitious project which transforms derelict or unused green spaces into thriving, blossoming community gardens where herbs and vegetables, fruit and flowers can be grown.
Robbie takes up the story. “Urban Roots is a community led environmental charity working across the Southside of Glasgow. We empower local people to make choices and lifestyle changes that are beneficial for them, their communities and the environment. We run gardening sessions, cookery courses, community meals, youth clubs and therapeutic activities in our local green spaces.
“The Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund has been providing support for the youth work programmes we have been running over the summer and into the school year. This has involved working with a number of different groups based in the Southside, including Urban Explorers in Toryglen and two of our local schools - King’s Park Secondary and Holyrood High School.
“As the lockdown rules were introduced in March we were working hard to ensure that we were able to continue our delivery of these services in a safe yet accessible way. We hosted online cooking classes for our young people, ran a weekly youth group on Zoom and helped families work towards their John Muir Award in Toryglen. These provided a great opportunity for people to socialise, learn new skills and work towards a shared goal during a difficult period of social isolation. It was extremely positive to see so many people’s enthusiasm and commitment to the activities and encouraging to know that we are able to utilise technology to extend our work beyond face-to-face meet ups going forward.
“The John Muir Award in particular has proven to be a key tool in delivering our sessions during these times - the adaptability and creative potential of the award is ideally suited to the broad and diverse set of service users and spaces we have been working in. The award involves discovering and exploring local green spaces, conserving and improving them and then sharing what you have done with the local community - a perfect fit for our ethos at Urban Roots, as well as the Green Infrastructure Fund!
“This allowed us to adapt to the changing rules and restrictions, rolling into the new school term in which we delivered to upwards of fifty young people aged 11-13 at King’s Park and Holyrood Secondary Schools. The work involved improvements to their respective eco-gardens, creating bird boxes, photography, maintaining the growing spaces at Polmadie Plots Community Garden, nature walks, fire building and mindfulness. An extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience for everyone involved, allowing the young people a break from the classroom environment to gain new skills, improve confidence and help appreciate the fresh air and natural beauty in their immediate surroundings.
“As the leaves began to fall for autumn we were able to deliver a fantastic five week “Urban Explorers” programme for our regular attendees (6-11), offering a slight return to normality for the group. These sessions took part in Malls Mire and were filled with play and creativity, making rope swings and picking berries as the longer nights crept in. During the October holidays we also successfully ran a youth club in Malls Mire over four days, working with young people (11-16) from the local area, this involved whittling, fire making, outdoor cooking, treasure hunts and shelter building. We felt it was important for this age group to have an outlet, allowing them to socialise and make friends out-with their school experience.
“The sessions were a hit, getting great feedback and making a positive impact on their October break. We have since set up an after-school club for the same group in the lead up to Christmas, offering a weekly meet-up in the woods. With the dark nights coming in this has provided opportunities for the young people to play and be adventurous in a safe but exciting context, making their own wax torches from the flames, toasting marshmallows and hiding in the forest.
“Next up we are looking to continue this Toryglen group into 2021, utilising the community hall as an indoor space in tandem with Malls Mire. We are also continuing our work with the local schools, introducing a new group of young people to the John Muir Award in January, as well as collaborating with organisations such as Thistle Housing and The Pollokshields Trust to deliver youth services across the Southside of Glasgow.”
Find out more
Enjoy an earlier blog about Urban Roots.
Growing Connections is supported by the NatureScot Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund which is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Visit the Urban Roots website.
Visit the twitter feed.
The Green Infrastructure Fund is part of the Scottish Government’s current European Regional Development Fund programme, which runs through to 2023. This is one of two ERDF Strategic Interventions led by NatureScot – the other is the Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund.
You can follow the European Structural Funds blog for ESF activities, news and updates. For twitter updates go to @scotgovESIF or use the hashtags #ERDF and #europeanstructuralfunds