For Groundwork Northamptonshire, 2022 has been a year of investment, growth, partnerships, communities and connections. We’ve been looking back on what we’ve achieved over the past twelve months with our Seeds of Hope campaign, and it’s been truly astounding. Here are some of our highlights as we reflect on an incredible year.

Award winning

It’s great to confirm the amazing work we do. We already know what a great job the team does, so it’s great to get such a lot of recognition this year. In 2022 we won a host of awards. Among these were a Green Flag award for the Green Patch and certification from the High Sheriff ‘in recognition of great and valuable services to the community.

We were presented with a tree from Buckingham Palace, called the ‘Tree of Trees’, by the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, and Kettering Civic Society awarded the Green Patch an award in recognition for our contribution to the community.

The Land Trust commended Twywell Hill and Dales – managed by Groundwork – for ‘excellent economic activity’. We also scooped an award at the Weetabix Food and Drink Awards, winning silver in the Local Hero category.

Children and Young People

At Groundwork we’re very proud of the work we do with children and young adults. Starting with the very young, our Wellies in the Woods has been hugely popular this year. It’s outdoor play with under 5’s and their families, and the feedback has been that we’ve opened up whole worlds for people. Rhyme Time at Green Patch was also popular, with more than 70 young children and families attending this year.

In the Spring, from funding we built a new green roof play shelter. Not only was this great in itself, but we were able to hire Kickstarters to do much of the work, giving young people well-needed experience. We were delighted to hear that all of these Kickstarters have moved on successfully, with some finding full time employment and others moving on to finish their education. It was a pleasure to work with them.

The Summer was packed full of activities for young people, and all of our after-school clubs have been over-subscribed. We helped over 700 children and young people during the Summer in four areas across the north of the county, with activities taking place over 6 days and evenings every week.

We also have to mention KHL and the wonderful work they’ve done this year, including the skate park and the Happening Youth Club in Hazel Leys that helped to get many young people off the street.

We Became More Mobile

In the summer we finally bought a van, which had been an ambition of ours for a while. This van has enabled us to reach out with more project work, take donations and support communities better. We can more easily move equipment around, making projects such as the one at Delapré Abbey far more productive. It’s been a hugely useful resource for all of the team.

Taking a Step into Northampton

For the first time in our history, in 2022 we established new partners in Northampton, and the projects were very well received.

For starters, fresh, locally grown produce is being sown in a trio of Victorian glass houses and the vegetable beds inside Delapré Abbey’s Walled Gardens. Volunteers from local businesses and community groups have been helping to sow, seed, water and distribute this food, which has been going to local food banks and people in need.

Also, working with SEGRO, we have been undertaking a community environmental project in and around a council building in the centre of the Racecourse Park. The project supported local unemployed people to aid them in their pathway to employment. The volunteers developed horticultural, practical landscaping and ‘green’ construction skills, as well as teamworking, communication and safety skills. The space will be used as a community focused food growing and educational facility.

Tree of Hope

One of our highlights of the Summer was our Tree of Hope. Weaved from willow by a local artist and made possible thanks to a £10,000 Arts Council England grant, it is now permanently set in the grounds of Green Patch.

The unveiling took place during a community picnic in early August, attended by local families and volunteers. It’s decorated with dozens of wooden and laminated leaves, all created by local people. Some are dedications to a loved one, others are reflections on the struggles of the past couple of years, while some are inspirational message of hope. Anyone is welcome to The Green Patch to come and see it.

Winter Support

In October we received funding that had to be spent quickly. We saw this as a huge opportunity to support vulnerable families and we have put together a variety of regular parcel deliveries, including referrals in from Action for Children, across Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough & East Northants. We themed these packages to support people in the right way, with self-care packages, cosy packages and Christmas Hampers all in the mix.

40 Years Old

Groundwork nationally celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. We had a huge celebration, with key national partners being recognised, and there was a speech from the Environment Minister.

Thank You

We want to say a HUGE thank you to our lovely volunteers this year, both those who have been with us for years and the new faces we’ve seen. We’d also like to thank partners, North Northants council and our voluntary community organisations who have given the projects in Northampton a really nice start.

Finally, we want to thank our board. Stuart, our Chairman, has been a big support to Kate, and that helps us to keep our projects moving.

For 2023

We have also started quite a few projects this year that are set to really take off in 2023.

Grow, Cook & Eat

This project to support families in growing and cooking more of their own food has just been given a boost with the appointment of a new manager, Freya. We’ll be sharing much more about Freya and the work she’ll be doing very soon.

Green Doctor

We are also in the process of hiring a new Green Doctor to offer support throughout our community, and expect to hear a lot about how this progresses early in 2023.

New Strategy

We have been working hard over the past couple of months to develop a new strategy for next year, building on the huge successes of 2022 and allowing us to offer even more in the months to come.

Lottery Funding

This has been one of the biggest things to happen in the Autumn, and we can’t wait to tell you more very soon!

For everyone who has worked with us, supported us or visited one of our projects through the year, we are so very grateful. None of what we do would be possible without the fantastic support of the community, and we can’t wait to do more with you and for you in 2023.