Over 50 volunteers from seven organisations worked together in Woking to create two unique gardens for the local community.
Thames Valley Housing (TVH) organised the Garden Blitz project to rejuvenate the garden spaces of Westfield Primary School in Woking, and the Alzheimer’s Society in West Byfleet. Volunteers created a wildlife garden and an outdoor classroom for Westfield Primary School pupils, and a sensory garden for the service users at the Alzheimer’s Society centre. The project attracted volunteers from multiple organisations, including Thames Valley Housing, Genesis Housing Association, Axis Europe, Woking Borough Council, and LinkAble.
The landscaping for both gardens was done by the pupils and service users themselves, during a joint Design Session. Buffy Harris-Jones, Project Officer for The Conservation Volunteers, was responsible for turning their vision into reality. She said: “It was amazing to see some of the younger pupils make such a real connection with the service users from the Alzheimer’s Society. Their ideas informed a lot of the things we did with the gardens”.
Barry Malki, Community Investment Manager at TVH, developed the project as part of their community work in Woking. He commented: “The school, which is right on the doorstep of one of our major developments in Woking, had expressed an interest in having a wildlife garden and an outdoor classroom, but couldn’t do it due to the cost. The Alzheimer’s Society centre was having a similar issue with the sensory garden that they wanted for their service users. By drawing in funding and using our network of contacts to attract skilled volunteers, we were able to help both organisations deliver their projects”.
Involvement through corporate volunteering schemes was a key factor to the success of the project. Barry Malki added: “Although it was hard, physical labour, and very far removed from their day-to-day working environment, the atmosphere and the attitude of the volunteers was brilliant”.
This project is funded by Thames Valley Housing and the AXIS Foundation, and volunteering was coordinated by the Conservation Volunteers Berkshire.
Pictures posted on Twitter by the volunteers, using #Gardenblitz