New garden could offer Dagenham residents a fresh start

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:05 16 February 2016

Clare Rowley (dark blue top) with parents and staff at the children's centre.

Clare Rowley (dark blue top) with parents and staff at the children's centre.

East Locality Parents Forum

An unused patch of land behind William Bellamy Children’s Centre could soon be transformed into an oasis for the community.

The Post are profiling each of the three finalists on the shortlist for a share of £30,000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

The second project on the list is from the East Locality Parents Forum.

The group hopes to use the money to build a new community garden at the William Bellamy Children’s Centre, in Frizlands Lane, Dagenham, that would be enjoyed by children, the elderly and the disabled.

Forum chair, Clare Rowley, said: “The children’s centre has such a big garden and in the summertime the kids can’t get out.”

But it’s not just youngsters who miss being outdoors.

The lack of safe outdoor space in the area means that many other people, such as pensioners, are often stuck inside – which can affect their wellbeing.

Clare said that the garden will allow people who are isolated to meet and socialise.

“It’s also understanding that people don’t have access to a garden,” she continued. “People can also come and do some gardening.”

The group hopes to use the grant to build a play area and a sensory garden.

There would also be a “grow your own” section to encourage healthy eating where people could plant vegetables.

The play area will feature plenty of equipment to stop youngsters from getting bored.

“We can get a slide or a climbing frame to make it physical and healthy,” said Clare.

A sensory area would have features to be enjoyed through sight, sound, touch and smell, making it fun for people with visual and hearing problems.

Clare said: “We are hoping to make it sensory with wind chimes and smells and maybe a soft play area for touching.”

As for activities, the forum will hold an open day to hear from people about what they want to do in the garden.

And they are very keen to hear ideas from people from a range of different cultural backgrounds.

“We have got a thing about growing, sharing and caring in the community,” explained Clare.

“That is our little message. That is our aim.”

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