‘Flush and grow’ is a great title for a project. This is what Bayer Street Allotments Association have called their new project, which will help people in Coseley grow more green-fingered thanks to a grant of £10,000 from Awards for All. It’s been both fun and fascinating to support this group of volunteers who’ve given so much of their time to the community in recent months.
I first met Bayer Street Allotment Association when they came along to Big Local meetings in East Coseley. CVS team members Donna and Neil have been working with volunteers from the group as they’ve become more involved in community initiatives across East Coseley, including helping growing projects in Coseley get off the ground and being integral to Coseley railway in bloom. Allotment volunteers have also worked with Rosewood School and providing opportunities for more than 40 children from Darkhouse Baptist Church’s holiday club to learn more about growing. The group has become really open to the community and its volunteers have really contributed to making Coseley an attractive and vibrant place.
When I met Tom Blackham, a dedicated committee member of Bayer Street Allotments, he told me that his vision was to welcome more people to the allotments, not to keep people out. In particular, he wanted to work with community groups and schools to encourage people to get growing. Tom recognised that the current facilities at the allotments probably didn’t encourage people to get involved, especially because there were no adequate toilet facilities.
I suggested that Tom could get the group more involved in East Coseley Big Local as a way of linking with the wider community; it was clear the group had loads to offer and I thought that having great links would strengthen any funding bid the group made. I also suggested that Awards for All would be a good funder to approach and I made sure that the group was eligible to apply. This involved reviewing the group’s constitution, and helping the committee to make changes to it and to understand what those changes meant so that good safeguards were in place.
The committee members were really encouraged when they attended an Awards for All event that Martin and I organised last year and met Lottery staff who liked the sound of their project. That gave them the confidence to apply.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though! The group had to submit a planning application; I liaised between the green spaces team at Dudley Council and Awards for All, who wanted some assurance that the project would be safe for at at least 5 years, because the work involved capital improvements on a Council-owned site.
So it’s really pleasing that after about 12 months of hard work, the application was finally successful!
The grant will be spent on developing a welcoming facility at Bayer Street Allotments, including the installation of a very clever eco-toilet, which will be wheelchair accessible, water-free and sewage-free and will recycle waste for composting. I’ve honestly never been so excited about a toilet!
Tom’s really excited and says, “We’ve got a big sense of achievement and we’re looking forward to other projects we can get our teeth into and encouraging others to get involved in voluntary work.”
I’m incredibly happy for Bayer Street Allotments volunteers who’ve put in so much time and effort to make this happen. I’ve learned lots in the process and I’m looking forward to seeing the transformation and hearing about how more people in Coseley have been responding to Tom’s mantra “Get fit, get healthy, get gardening!”