"A small grant can take you a long way"

With our generous donors' support, we funded 13 local volunteer groups through our Love Your Park Community Fund. This blog by Judy Gowenlock, our Your Park Officer, showcases the impact of Grow Green Carolina's project at Dove Park.

Before I reach Dove Park, I hear children laughing. As I climb the steps to the park, I notice a hive of activity with planting of shrubs, bulbs, and trees. Local residents are enjoying chatting whilst gardening or stopping to drink a cuppa. Children are getting their hands dirty and digging the ground with spades which are almost as tall as they are.

Grow Green Carolina was created in 2020 and is an informal community group initially of 30 residents of Carolina House which had the vision of improving the environment and communal outside spaces of the Dove Street council flats and enhancing community building and wellbeing.

Love Your Park Community Fund provided funding so that the group could transform Dove Street Open Space (now renamed Dove Park by local children) by planting wildflowers, fruit trees and bulbs, as well as enabling the group to provide refreshments and run activities during gardening sessions.

What difference have they made?

Helping the community recover from the pandemic

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Residents reported a real sense of belonging to the community and a connection with their local green spaces.

‘I have lived on Dove Street for over 30 years and have seen how much this project has brought the community together. It allows us to meet regularly and enabled children and adults alike to enjoy our city outside space. To be able to do Yoga in our outside space was a big plus for me... and celebrated by many’

Encouraging people who do not regularly use the park

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The group noticed an increase of young people, parents with young children and people with disabilities (including people with visual disabilities and people with restricted mobility) enjoying the park.

'I used to not come here, but now it is so lovely that I am coming every morning to the park. It has helped me enormously with my mental health' (Jane, 67)

The impact on nature

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The creation of a ribbon of long grass, with added wildflowers, fruit trees and bulbs enhanced the diversity of the park which previously had only short grass, big trees at its border, and was littered with dog poo. The planting of wildflowers in the ribbon of long grass and fruit trees in the middle, have attracted insects and birds, which in turn is helping to pollinate the area and naturally control pests.

In total 13 fruit trees and 4,000 bulbs and wildflowers were planted. The children made six bird boxes, built a bug hotel and a pollinators corner has been created, which has attracted many new insects.

Supporting health and wellbeing

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Residents’ wellbeing has been enhanced through collective participation, expansion of networks and sense of belonging within their local place. The group estimates around 1,500 residents from Carolina House and neighbouring Armada and Fremantle House, plus other neighbours from the area have benefited from the project.

Brings inspiration and hope and makes me smile whenever I see what is going on!’

Creating a strong group & getting recognised

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The group has gained 11 new members and is much better known in the community. This has allowed the group to explore new collaborations, projects, and donations. With their success, their confidence has grown, enabling them to apply for and attract new funding.

Grow Green Carolina have also won awards for their impact. The awards include the 2021 Love Your Park Community Connectors award and Jibriil Abdi was nominated as one of the three environmental young heroes of Bristol.

‘Our next step is to reach more residents and to expand the community work we are delivering... the grant leaves us with stronger community cohesion which will enable us to embark in new projects oriented to improve the community green spaces by community involvement.’

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