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Volunteers help to make Bankside’s open spaces greener

Stephen Freer

Volunteers from Castle Day Centre and Blackfriars Settlement have been making SE1 a greener place one garden at a time.

Volunteers help to make Bankside’s open spaces greener
Volunteers help to make Bankside’s open spaces greener

In spite of the brisk weather last week several volunteers were sprucing up Christ Church Garden by planting spring bulbs including tulips, irises and crocuses.

Leah McNally and Heather Carter run a Capital Volunteering Project at Bankside Open Spaces Trust. Their goals are to give everyone a chance to get out in the community and help the environment at the same time.

According to Leah McNally, being around greenery and having contact with nature has shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Window box gardening was introduced in order to generate interest and teach the necessary skills.

Since the summer they have been working in Little Dorrit Park, St George's Garden, the Diversity Garden and Tate Community Garden.

Kirsty has been gardening with the group for over a month now. She enjoys getting outdoors and has an allotment of her own. She said it was after Castle Day Centre's plans to start a garden at Maudsley Hospital fell through, that they got involved with BOST. Now they have a communual vegetable plot at the Diversity Garden.

They have grown tomatoes, spinach and herbs to encourage healthy eating. She pointed out that those who are not able to get out to the gardens are also given a chance to take part as BOST is also running a programme of environmental sessions at Castle Day Centre, which includes activities such as leaf-rubbing and bulb planting in pots.

Raymond has been volunteering for a few weeks and was one of the many to show up at Christ Church on Tuesday. He said gardening is a way to pass time. "If it brightens up the community, that's great."

There was a strong turnout on Tuesday, and Leah McNally says that they plan on gardening all the way through the winter.

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