Helping hands was developed in response to residents concerns with untidy front gardens causing obstructions to pavements and public highways.
Each Community Neighbourhood in Newham identified local issues of general concern to residents through Citizen Assemblies held in November 2018 and February 2019. Priorities for improvement were established and action groups set up to address each issue, to be completed by March 2020. One of the priorities for Forest Gate was greening the area, and one strand concerned helping people unable to maintain their front gardens, particularly where there was overhanging foliage. A budget of £1000 was allocated to this strand.
Time was spent drawing up a workable scheme. We took into consideration the following points:
- The purpose was to provide help to those unable to carry out or fund cutting back foliage themselves due to disability, age or other inhibiting factors.
- The scheme could only fund one visit per individual.
- Those providing the service needed to have basic gardening skills, be able to use powertools and have insurance cover.
- Administration time (and therefore costs) were likely to be relatively high as each caseneeded to be tailored to the user.
- Care needed to be taken to ensure the scheme was not abused by those attempting to geta free gardening service when they could afford to pay.
- The service was only provided for homeowners or tenants with garden responsibility. Wherepremises were rented, who is responsible for the garden must be clarified.
- Contractors would not be expected to enter users premises, so DBS certification was notessential. Users would be advised not to invite contractors to enter their premises.
In the light of the above considerations we proposed that:
- Referrals were received mainly from people likely to be aware of those needing help (Street Enforcerment Officers, Community Link workers for Adult Social Care, Neighbourhood Watch groups, GP’s, Neighbours).
- The work was carried out by a professional gardening service, with volunteers available to help if necessary. One company, Green@Home, was approached as a Garden Service, but others might be invited to apply.
Forest Gate Community Garden was commissioned to administer the project.
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