Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Manchester is one of the main focuses of a new report launched today by the Royal Horticultural Society

The report, entitled Britain in Bloom: transforming local communities, looks at how participating in Britain in Bloom has turned around the fortunes of such places as Nottingham, Brightlingsea and Manchester.

Based on the results of 231 community gardening groups which responded to an RHS survey, and an in-depth look at 11 neighbourhoods, towns and cities across the UK, the report identifies four impacts of the campaign: the transformational, economic, social and environmental.*

The city of Manchester is the stand-out case study that shows how positive social change has come as a result of the campaign and Central Estate, Dukinfield, Greater Manchester is an example of transformational impact.

When Central Estate residents in Dukenfield began their , their estate was known for crime and anti-social behaviour, and up to 60% of properties stood vacant, there was little sense of community spirit and it was not a place people wanted to live.

Central Bloomers have completely transformed the estate which has led to a strong sense of community and a much better quality of life for the residents.

Projects have included planting along the previously ugly balconies running along the side of the estate. A growing compound established in the estate has become a hub of community horticulture and learning.

Volunteers there gain an NVQ Level 2 qualification in horticulture. A new safe community garden includes new natural play features, seating, picnic areas and sensory planting.

As a result, residents feel happier, safer and are proud of their community, crime has fallen and incidents of anti-social behaviour have halved since 2005. There is now a waiting list for people wanting to move in.

Health Trainer at NCHT says: ‘Having green space in our communities is great for promoting health and wellbeing and there is no cost. Not only is gardening a great way to increase physical activity it can also help with Mental illness such as depression. It is a good way to socialise and get to know other members of your community and help you feel less isolated.’

Sue Biggs, Director General of the RHS, said, ‘The report proves that gardening is not only a great social leveller but also the cohesive glue that binds and builds neighbourhoods, reducing crime, transforming lives and enabling commerce to prosper. For the millions of volunteers through Britain in Bloom who annually green up and clean up where they live, and have lots of fun while they're at it, this research highlights the incredibly positive impact they have on their communities and how important the national campaign is to the neighbourhoods that take part.’

Each year over two thousand communities take part in Britain in Bloom, including its sister campaign, It’s Your Neighbourhood. Using gardening as a tool, Britain in Bloom brings individuals together to form community action groups that make the places where they live cleaner and greener.

Participating groups are assessed either regionally or nationally and awarded certificates of merit or medals accordingly. Each group is encouraged to demonstrate horticultural achievement, community participation and environmental responsibility through the projects they undertake.

Most Britain in Bloom groups are run by volunteers, working in partnership with local councils. For more information and to download a copy of the report visit www.rhs.org.uk/communities

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