The Hidden Gardens

Encouraging greater use of a public greenspace located between communities of disadvantage and cultural diversity in Glasgow’s Southside

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Grantee: The Hidden Gardens

What we set out to achieve

The Hidden Gardens is a well-established, welcoming, safe, and free to enter public greenspace located between communities of disadvantage and cultural diversity in Glasgow’s Southside. The project aims to bring together people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities from the very diverse (both economically and culturally) communities of Pollokshields and Govanhill, engaging and inspiring larger numbers of local people to use this space on a regular basis by taking part in a wide ranging programme of activities that include understanding nature and environment, improving health and well-being and encouraging an interest in art and creativity.

Where did the idea for the project come from?

The idea for the project evolved from analysis of our recent Independent Impact Evaluation(2015) and from general enquiries to The Hidden Gardens -  there is still a lack of awareness of our existence for large numbers of local people, but usage would increase if help was offered to help with engaging with the space (91% of respondents in our Impact Evaluation considered improving their understanding of how to relate to and discover nature as being an important benefit in encouraging use of The Hidden Gardens.)

How communities have helped us develop our ideas

Through engagement with our various groups  including our gardening volunteers, Men’s Group,  participants from our pilot project ‘Our Hidden Gardens’ -  it was found that many people would like increased opportunities to discover and learn more about the wildlife in the gardens e.g. bird song,  bees, moths ; they want to learn new skills by taking part in activities such as wildlife surveying, gardening volunteering, understanding what plants to use to attract wildlife and improve health; to improve their health and well-being e.g. they would like to take part in mindfulness sessions and have the chance to meet others from all backgrounds, cultures and abilities who they might not usually come into contact with providing opportunities to make friends and learn more about each other. For the majority of people in the local area cost is always a barrier that prevents involvement in activities – whether a learning opportunity, eating healthily or attending an exercise class but the gardens always provides a neutral space which provides equality of opportunity to all–a level playing field where cost is not a barrier to learning and participation.

How the project fits into the bigger picture

The Hidden Gardens has an excellent track record in local community engagement hosting many small and larger events each year and providing  a variety of training and learning opportunities  from hands on, practical gardening skills training (volunteering), Help yourself Grow (a partnership project with Fairdeal which provides a  training in gardening skills and personal development for those with learning disabilities), schools workshops, accredited training, biodiversity and environmental workshops which ties in with the education and learning strand of our work. We aim to increase our engagement with the local community ensuring that everyone whether recently settled in the area or a long-time resident who has never discovered the space–will have the opportunity to engage with us creating a lasting legacy for local people where everyone will have the chance to discover more about nature and improve their health in a beautiful, safe, inclusive greenspace regardless of income and despite living in a densely populated urban environment.

Where we would like our project to lead us

We will increase our reach through engaging with local people through artistic and nature-based opportunities. We will also raise our profile and sense of arrival and accessibility through improved interpretation – to link with city wide audiences and national organisations increasing networks for all and building on the reputation of a garden that is lovely to visit but also to participate in.

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