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Muck In4Life with Bankside Open Spaces Trust says Government

London SE1 website team

A Government campaign to encourage people to get healthy and help the environment has highlighted the work of Bankside Open Spaces Trust at Christ Church Garden.

Rob Porter and Heather Carter at Christ Church Gar
Rob Porter and Heather Carter at Christ Church Garden

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs set up the Muck In4Life campaign to get people out of the house and involved in conservation work.

Biodiversity minister Huw Irranca-Davies launched Muck In4Life on the South Bank in May.

This helps you lead a healthier lifestyle and it's good for the environment too. Volunteers can also enter photos of their experiences and win high street vouchers, and have their photo displayed at Kew Gardens.

Now Defra is highlighting some of the local volunteering opportunities available through Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

The charity has more than 200 regular volunteers whose ages range from five to over 75 years of age.

"I have been volunteering for quite a while now," says Rob Porter, 51, from Bermondsey.

"I had to give up work due to ill-health and I live in a tower block, so this is perfect as I don't have my own garden. I really enjoy meeting local people and the office workers who come to help out."

Rob has been helping with the creation of a new wildlife border at Christ Church Garden on Blackfriars Road.

Rob explains: "There was a lot of work involved in developing the border. A student designed the plans which we then followed to create the wildlife area. A huge effort was made by all the volunteers to strip out the old garden and put in new plants.

"The border used to be run down and unpleasant and there were lots of needles lying about, then with lots of volunteering effort, energy and enthusiasm we transformed it. Now it is a better place and more friendly. Even strangers who use the garden say how much they like it and how relaxing it is.

"Volunteering for conservation work keeps you fit and has done wonders in terms of my own wellbeing. It is definitely something I'd recommend to other people."

Project coordinator Heather Carter added: "The wildlife border has created a great deal of pleasure to the local people and the wider community. At the start we engaged with as many different groups as we could. Visually-impaired volunteers advised us on which flowers would benefit them most. Homeless people from St Mungo's charity made the bird boxes and our neighbouring businesses have sent workplace volunteers."

Defra is encouraging volunteers who take part in environmental projects like BOST's to take part in a photographic competition: see www.direct.gov.uk/muckin4life

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