Spa Court in Hockley Essex is a sheltered housing scheme where many residents have an interest in gardening activities. And if not actually taking a part, many certainly enjoy the gardens and outdoor spaces surrounding the scheme.The two most pressing issues at Spa Court were a large overgrown bed measuring about 80 square meters and a rarely used patio area adjacent to the lounge. Addressing these two issues and making the necessary improvements were identified during a number of consultation meetings with residents and staff. Once the ideas had been gathered and agreed upon, a proposal was put forward by Groundwork and funding was secured to carry out the plans.
The work was carried out over a few days by Sally Ann Baker and her 3 volunteers. Sally is a trained mentor for Foundation 66, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity that help ex addicts to turn around their lives through volunteering activities. Sally has come through the programme herself and is now managing volunteers on a variety of Green Space improvement projects and is even running her own gardening business. The team carried out back breaking work to clear the massively overgrown bed and then lay approximately 80 square meters of new turf provided at a reduced cost by Travis Perkins. Many residents came out to show their support for the volunteers by making tea and providing snacks. Some plants were even dug up and transplanted to residents private plots to both reduce green waste and brighten up other areas of the scheme.
At the same time, the patio area that previously was unpopular due to it being a very stark, hard environment was firstly cleaned with a jet wash and then 2 large planters were installed with trellising to soften the area with appropriate planting.
The results of the two improvements are significant and positively appreciated by the residents and the staff. The overgrown boarder was blocking light and creating an eye sore for many residents. It is now a perfect lawn that residents can now use. The patio area is a much more inviting place to sit and enjoy the outdoors now that the area has been cleaned and improved with the new planters and trellising that hide much of the ugly steel fencing. The residents will have the opportunity to tend the beds and try their own planting ideas each season and they will have a water butt close by so that the planter to not dry out.
Sally Ann Baker, Volunteer Leader said: “The opportunity to help people enjoy gardening and appreciate gardens has been the driving force to change my life around. Growing Communities has given the residents some much better spaces to enjoy and it has provided me with a chance to lead a project from start to finish. And I’m really happy to have been a part of this”
Sandra Callender, Sanctuary Scheme Manager said: “We really want to develop a community feel at Spa Court. Giving the residents better communal gardens and the opportunity to get involved in gardening activities will help. The project has been great and has been much appreciated by many of the residents.”