At the back of a housing estate in Newington, Thanet is an active church surrounded by an overgrown, underused garden.
St Christopher Church runs a number of community outreach groups, including coffee mornings for local residents and vulnerable community members.
Kent Wildlife Trust’s Big Lottery funded ‘Painting the Town Green’ project encourages people in urban areas, who don't normally engage with wildlife, into neglected spaces to transform them. The project aims to increase participant’s wellbeing as well as leaving improved spaces for local communities to enjoy.
Community Engagement Officer Claire Bates saw the potential of the space and approached a regular coffee morning group about getting involved in making some changes to the garden area. Most members of the group had never really undertaken outdoor activities, but they soon became hooked.
The group started to come up with their own ideas for the space, and between Spring and Autumn this year, attended workshops on wildflower meadows, frog-friendly gardening and hedge planting.
After each workshop, they used what they had learned in the garden, planting a wildflower meadow and nectar bar, creating a new path, adding mixed hedging to create habitats for small mammals and birds and making frog-friendly water features, including tub ponds. By the summer, frogs had moved in to the ponds.
The project was a turning point for two volunteers in particular. Dave Ladd and Simone Crouchman were able to use their woodworking skills to make benches, bug hotels and planting features to add interest to the space and to put personal touches into the garden.