Not-So-Secret Garden, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

bridge_centreThe project focused on the development of a community garden on unused land adjacent to the new Bridge Community Centre, which was provided by the Stornoway Trust. It provided a starting point in bringing together people of all ages to work as volunteers for the benefit of the community. The young people were school leavers who had yet to secure employment, training or education opportunities. Although the original intention was to have a greater number of young people involved, the project worked well because, with the same people all the way through, there was continuity. 12 young people, identified through Careers Scotland and Get Ready for Work providers, working in teams of between 4 and 6, undertook the landscaping of the garden. This included mixing cement, block paving, kerbing and establishing raised beds. Older people were keen to be involved, but the initial work was rather heavy. However they became involved at the planting, weeding and general upkeep stage. The garden provides an open meeting space for all generations.
StornowayStornoway on the Isle of Lewis is the main port of the Western Isles with a sheltered harbour for freight, ferry and leisure traffic and a fishing fleet. The Bridge Community Centre in Stornoway serves as a focal point for youth work. It moved into brand new custom built premises in January 2009, but aims to provide a facility for all age groups. The development consists of twenty-five flats for student and medical personnel accommodation and incorporates a community area with reception, games hall, games room and IT facilities. The Centre is currently working to develop a new strategy and a user-led approach, to ensure that facilities and activities are developed for all age groups within the community. Its greatest challenge is securing revenue funding to enable the core service to continue.

Successful Outcomes
The participants in the garden project gained confidence and had a sense of ownership and a real sense of achievement in seeing things through from start to finish. They are also now able to demonstrate to potential employers the practical skills and work skills they have developed. The project provided the Centre with a first step towards becoming more community involved and accessible. It plans to build on this to develop other projects to bring more local people into the Centre to access the facilities and activities.

* Support and feedback were provided for all participants on how they were doing
* On completion all participants were rewarded for their hard work and achievements.

One of the greatest challenges was overcoming the vagaries of the Scottish weather! In hindsight, it would have been better to have started the project in the summer months.

FerryContact: Jonathon MacIver
Bridge Community Centre, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2BE. Tel: 01851 702 432

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