We have travelled a very long and winding path to reach our sensory garden – it’s taken around three years to get here! While we were still part of Wandsworth council we secured £36,000 capital funding and undertook a public tender for a contractor to carry out the landscaping and installation of the garden. Unfortunately, due to the vast amount of work to be done, the money was nowhere near enough – there were no takers and things stalled for some months.
The we heard about Groundwork, a charity specialising in creating community spaces. They could design the garden, tender for contractors and project manage the installation. Even better, they could coordinate fundraising for additional money. We were on our way! You can find out more about Groundwork and their projects near you by visiting their website http://www.groundwork.org.uk.
Groundwork completed an initial design and project costing for the garden which came to around £66,000. Following a detailed topographic survey, the budget had to be increased even further. We had quite a fundraising task ahead of us as we had to more than double the amount initially received from the council.
Our first success was being nominated for Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme which converts in-store 5p payments for plastic carrier bags into awards for community projects. In a public vote carried out in Tesco’s stores we achieved 2nd place and a funding award of £10,000 to be spent on specific sensory items for the garden. To find out more about Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme visit https://www.tesco.com/carrier-bags/.
Next, we were awarded £19,430 from the Postcode Local, who provide financial support for charities and good causes which help communities enhance their natural environment in a way that benefits the wider community. The trust had received over 300 applications and competition for funding was very intense. Being selected represented a great endorsement of One Trust and our project. Details of the Trust and applications can be found at http://www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk/.
Shortly after, we received a £10,000 environmental grant award from the Gregg’s Foundation whose mission is to ‘make a difference to people in need in the heart of our local communities’. To find out more about their grants and the projects that benefit, visit https://www.greggsfoundation.org.uk/. This, together with a few staff-led fundraising initiatives and independent donations, meant that we finally had enough funding in place to start the project.
Following further refinements in the garden design, Groundwork undertook another tender exercise for contractors. This time there were a few interested parties. The successful bid came from Greatford Garden Services who began work in early December 2016. They cracked on in an admirable fashion, working through some pretty challenging weather! By the end of the same month they had pretty much completed the entire thing! GGS can be contacted by visiting http://greatfordgardenservices.co.uk.
Watching the garden take shape before our eyes was a real pleasure. The pictures below show the journey from start to finish. What was once an unused sloping area of scrubby grass has been completely transformed. There are still a few bits and pieces to finish off when the weather improves, such as activating the water feature. The garden will also need a few months for the plants and shrubs to become fully established, yet we already have a fabulous interactive space that can be fully enjoyed by all of our service users across the service.
One Trust would like to say a huge thank you to all of our sponsors and everyone involved in the project so far. We are still fundraising for additional outdoor sensory equipment. If you would like to assist with fundraising in any way please contact Louise Hayes email@example.com.
If you would like to make an online donation to the project visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/one-trust/sensorygarden
or text SENG21 £5 to 70070 to donate today.
Mark Honan, Business and Finance Director.