For the past three months we have been working with supported housing customers in East Sussex to help them make their communal areas greener and more welcoming.
To start with customers came along to meetings to share what they thought about their outdoor areas and how they could be improved. When the plans had been agreed Greening Communities Project Worker Emma Reeves worked with customers and staff to help make the ideas a reality.
Three sites have been chosen for this year; two teenage parent projects in Brighton and a mental health project in Hastings.
The two outdoor spaces for the projects in Brighton proved to have very different challenges. Orlando House has a north facing courtyard which doesn’t receive any sunlight and Gocher Court has a larger court yard and some borders but is either scorching hot or in deep shade. It was quickly decided that for Orlando the emphasis would be to make it more comfortable for the customers children to play in and therefore plans for a soft rubber flooring are afoot. The fences will be painted jungle style and shade loving creepers and climbers will be used up the fence to give extra depth to the painting.
At Gocher court customers wanted edible plants, bright coloured flowers and a few nice smelling plants.
Together with Emma Reeves they have planted out strawberries, herbs, chives and cosmos. Another big planting day will see marigolds and bright flowering perennials going in under the mural in the courtyard area. So far three families at Gocher court have participated in the project and the hope is that when the results start to show even more people will be keen to get involved and maintain the new garden.
At Pathways, the mental health scheme in Bexhill, there was more of an emphasise on edible planting and the customers there really wanted to be involved with the production and care of the vegetables. So over the weeks they have planted and looked after beetroot, potatoes, salad crops and tomatoes. This has been in a raised bed as well as in containers and pots. Over half the tenants at Pathways have been involved in the process of getting the project going and will hopefully soon be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour!