After Christine attended an Eden Project Community Camp, she was “galvanised into action” and created a brand-new green space for her community to enjoy in a disused alleyway on her street.
Christine Sherburne, a former secondary school teacher from Salford, realised she wanted to do more to make a positive change where she lives when she retired. She said, “I had more time on my hands and I realised how quickly people can become isolated.”
She decided to sign up to a Community Camp, and travelled down to the Eden Project in September 2019, where she was able to network with other community-minded people and access information and resources about exploring her ideas.
When the pandemic hit a few months later, Christine was more determined than ever to connect her neighbours so, using what she’d learnt at camp, the 65-year-old organised a socially distanced VE Day street party, complete with a DJ and 1940s themed doorstep dancing!
Community Spirit in Bloom
Keen to make the most of the connections already built and aware of the challenges lockdown was presenting, Christine then decided to spruce up the alleyway behind her street, aiming to provide children with a safe place to play and socialise while they were unable to go to the park. She cleared and tidied the disused space, adding refurbished benches and a donated Wendy house and planting flowers and vegetables in recycled plant pots. Other neighbours soon got involved, providing support and funds to Christine to maintain the space, donating more plants, and enjoying barbecues and outdoor gatherings together.
As well as creating a recreational area, the project has had noticeable educational and environmental benefits, with children helping out with sowing and planting, learning more about where their food comes from, and holding vegetable sales with the produce they’ve grown. Thanks to regular get-togethers, including a Big Lunch, and with a little help from their new ‘greened-up’ alley, Christine says the community is now “rock-solid”!
Christine said: “Of all the things I’ve done, I’m really proud of this. My drive was to bring people together and now I feel like I have a family here. It might not sound like a big deal but it’s amazing what positivity can do – I have children running up to me now asking whether they can pick from our home-grown produce or help me to sow new seeds.
She continued: “I heard from all these wonderful people doing fantastic things at camp and that gave me the confidence to do it. I have so many ideas and it took away that feeling of trepidation. Whatever it is, if you start small, keep the faith and carry on plugging at it, it will grow!”