The Bounce Back & Grow project ran throughout 2022, working with Rochdale Council and partners in three areas of Rochdale. The project aimed to:

  • Engage diverse groups with nature-based activities
  • Teach green skills
  • Connect residents with each other in outdoor settings, following the isolating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Groundwork coordinated a series of nature-based activities in Kirkholt, Falinge and Deeplish which they hoped would engage and inspire 600 residents.

Nature-based activities

The following nature-based activities were designed to engage residents of all ages, abilities and needs; from those who were lacking confidence to leave their house, to those who were actively seeking opportunities to connect with others in their community.

  • Pop-up & Grow

These sessions were designed for people to easily drop in to and were the perfect opportunity for those who felt uncomfortable leaving the house and engaging with big groups. Those who joined our pop-up sessions were able to partake in the nature related activities and learn new green skills, such as recycled food growing, potting up colourful flowers or creating bug hotels. In addition to the drop- in sessions, we arranged a number of plant container drop offs, participants collected a plant pot, compost, instructions and a plant of their choosing (out of herbs or pollinators). The plant packs could be collected from the pop-up sessions or we dropped them off at schools, community centres, wellbeing facilities or to people’s homes, meaning those struggling with their health still could still engage with the activity. Residents were encouraged to keep their plant alive through the ‘Container Challenge’ which provided a prize to the resident whose plant grew the most.

  • Wellbeing Growing Sessions

These sessions were created for residents who wanted to get stuck into community action, with participants taking part in a dedicated activity for an hour or so at a time. Led by our Communities team, residents learnt about gardening basics, herb gardening, how to build Bug Hotels and more. Participants were encouraged to return to future sessions, providing more opportunities to connect with nature and get to know their neighbours. These sessions focused on developing the local community so they could take more ownership of their local greenspaces, feeding into the Greenspace Improvements section of the project.

  • Greenspace Improvements

Groundwork partnered with a neighbourhood level community in each of the three areas in Rochdale to help them transform a local, underutilised green space. This activity was designed to support residents who were already active within their community, recognising the power local people have to mobile others and create spaces which will be valued by their community for a long time.

  • Reached over 1,000 participants!

We were pleased to discover the popularity of our events led to over 1,000 people being involved in our activities. This highlighted a fantastic demand for nature-based activities and community connection in these areas, one which we hope we are able to support in years to come.

  • Increased green skills & community connection

Residents who attended the wellbeing growing sessions at Stoneyfield Park in Deeplish began conversations about creating a residents gardening group so that their new facilities could be maintained and used once the Bounce Back are Grow sessions were over. They are confident the skills they learnt during the Groundwork sessions will enable them to do this.

  • Capacity building in the community

Our relationship with Deeplish Community Centre, championed by Sohail the manager of the centre, led to meaningful connections and action within the community. Working with an English learning group, we planted a wildflower meadow and fruit bushes in a greenspace near the community centre. This was something the users of the centre had wanted to do for a while but did not have the capacity or skills to undertake.

  • Co-designed approach

Groundwork prioritises a community led approaching throughout our work, making sure community ideas are heard and then supported. This approach was adopted throughout the Bounce Back and Grow programme, with communities designing the topics for the Wellbeing Sessions and driving forward their greenspace improvement ideas. At The Strand in Kirkholt, participants commented on how much they valued the co-design approach and the fact they were empowered to make choices about the garden space.

  • Reached a diverse audience

We were able to reach a diverse audience across all three areas in Rochdale thanks to the support of Sohail at Deeplish Community Centre and the Friends of Stoneyfield Park. By engaging different members of the community, we were able to tailor sessions to meet their needs. For examples we adjusted the types of herb and vegetables in our growing sessions, so they were more familiar and useful to local residents.

We also worked with Rochdale and District Minds’ Diverse Dementia group. Taking advice from their Community Outreach Manager we ran two specialised wellbeing sessions which focused on a sensory experience. By using colourful and highly textured plants we were able to engage people with living with dementia new skills about planting.

Deepa’s Story

Deepa joined Petrus’ Social Prescribing sessions in Kirkholt last year after speaking to her GP about her low mood and immediately discovered a passion for the garden. Groundwork had recently partnered with Petrus, providing the skills and expertise to expand their social prescribing offer to include horticulture, whilst also developing the space with, and for, the local community.

The green Arts & Crafts sessions provided Deepa with structure to her day and she began to recognises the psychological benefits that being outdoors brings her, explaining that nurturing the garden produce also helped her grow too.

As well as being involved in the planting and maintenance of the garden, Deepa also harvests what is grown. She is currently excited about the crop of courgettes and Roma Tomatoes.