What are the benefits of getting involved?
If you want to learn more about the environment, improve the appearance of your local area, get to know neighbours better, improve your health or just want to get involved in gardening, horticulture or improving opportunities for wildlife then getting involved is for you.
Boroughs are well practiced in doing their bit, but many community members and groups do not know where to start if they want to make a difference within their community. You may want to work with a few neighbours to improve the appearance of your street, or maybe create a community space for growing vegetables, flowers or for wildlife. You could even work on a bigger project with a large number of volunteers. This toolkit provides you with some ideas of how to get started.
What could you do as an individual………
Put up a hanging basket
Making a difference in your street or on your estate can be very simple. A hanging basket outside your front door can be a great way of not only making the entrance to your property more welcoming but also enhancing the overall look of the street or estate. When two or more residents have this same idea, the results can be very effective.
Keep your front garden tidy
A sense of pride can be achieved when you walk down the road and see several well maintained gardens that have colour throughout the year. If you have limited space you could install window boxes or ground planters to add a splash of colour during the summer. Also think of different types of plants you could use herbs, vegetables, bulbs and perennials that flower or produce what you need at different times of the year.
Many residents and community groups not only keep their gardens tidy; they also help to maintain an area in front of their property. If each resident made an effort to pick up any litter directly around their property, this would make a huge difference. Alternatively you and possibly other volunteers could litter pick your street or area when necessary. If you wish to do this contact your local authority cleansing department who will often be happy to provide bags, litter pickers and tabards and remove the bags afterwards.
Maintain a local flower display
Is there a planter or flower bed close to home? Would you like to help look after this display? If you do, this is a great way to ensure the planters and beds in your area look at their best at all times of the year. (You will need to contact the council for permission to do this.)
Spread the word
Working together with your neighbours to do just one of the small steps suggested above can be a great start to making your neighbourhood cleaner, greener and a brighter place to live and if you register for the Its Your Neighbourhood Award Scheme (free to enter) you will receive a Royal Horticultural Society Certificate to show for your efforts.
What you could do as a community…………..
Identify an area that needs improving
Nobody knows a neighbourhood better than the people who live there. If there is an area that you or your neighbours want to improve, identify what needs to be done and how you are going to do it. You may need to find out who owns the site before you start work. Your local authority or your community liaison officer can usually help with this.
Organise a clean-up
Litter picks and clean-ups bring people together and make a big difference very quickly. Usually your local council will help with bags, litter pickers, gloves and high visibility vests and will take away the rubbish you have collected. You can usually get help with risk assessments and other advice about insurance etc.
Site clearance & adoption
If you have organised a clean-up and want to do more you might consider weeding flower and shrubs beds or even pruning the shrubs and Roses ( you will need prior approval before you start form the landowner or council) or working with your local council to reduce fly tipping and other anti-social behaviour. You could even plant some spring flowering plants to brighten up the area.
Deciding as a group how the area could be used or look
If you have cleared an area, you may decide to continue with improvements This could be to make the area more attractive or maybe or use it for a more practical purpose such as a community garden, adding benches and planters can make a huge difference and make an area more welcoming and less attractive for those wishing to indulge in anti-social activities. At this point you might like to enter the Its Your Neighbourhood Award Scheme – LINK to entry form
Just doing it!
Once you have decided on what to do it’s now time to make a start. Organise a work/volunteer day and get people involved. Ask volunteers to bring along tools or contribute some refreshments to make a social occasion.
Finally you will need to decide how you’re hard work is to be maintained, perhaps get people to agree to a few work days perhaps one a month to collect litter, weed beds and keep the area tidy. If you have planted summer flowering plants or plated hanging baskets or planters you will need to organise a watering rota or find a volunteer to keep the plant going.
You are not alone, London in Bloom is happy to provide an initial visit to get you going and provide advice about plats etc. You can always ask a question by contacting us via the bottom of the page.
If you want to get involved, London in Bloom 2013 is now open for applications.
It’s Your Neighbourhood
Should you wish to register your community in the It’s Your Neighbourhood Campaign organised by the Royal Horticultural Society and delivered by London in Bloom go to your can enter here.