Open day at the New Beginnings Garden of Hope, Beaufort Street, Toxteth (Photos: Granby Toxteth Development Trust) 

Granby Toxteth Development Trust (GTDT) has worked in collaboration with the Whitechapel Centre to develop a therapy garden for members of the local community to learn gardening skills and grow their own vegetables.

The newly renamed New Beginnings Garden of Hope, located on Beaufort Street in Toxteth, was initially set up by Liverpool City Council using funds from Network Rail, who own the site. 

The space is located below the railway tracks and has been used by various short-lived community group projects over the years. 

However, until recently the plot was left derelict and overgrown with weeds.

GTDT is an independent charitable organisation based in Toxteth, an inner-city neighbourhood in Liverpool, that supports the local community through adult learning, community projects and youth services.

The Whitechapel Centre is Liverpool’s leading homelessness and housing charity, founded in 1975, and aims to provide unhoused people with practical routes out of homelessness. 

Rose Hadden, Communications Officer at GTDT, says: “By teaching the residents of the Whitechapel Centre the basics of gardening they now work as a team to maintain the space and grow food, improving their physical wellbeing and creating a more positive outlook”.

Liverpool City Councillor Steve Munby proposed the idea for the redevelopment project to GTDT and Nicola Socratous, Community Tutor at GTDT, then approached the Whitechapel Centre, offering to provide a gardening course for people being supported by the charity.

Socratous is a former fruit farmer who has taught horticultural therapy for over a decade and says that the gardening course has been a great success.

“We have around 18 people from the Whitechapel Centre enrolled in the course and they meet here every Monday.

“Horticultural therapy is amazing because a lot of the people we work with are very socially isolated and just being out in the fresh air, being in a group and getting to watch a living thing they planted grow has an incredibly positive impact”.

The planters now contain a variety of native wildflowers, as well as vegetables and herbs that students will get to harvest and use in cookery lessons at the Whitechapel Centre.

Socratous says GTDT is currently working on setting up a shaded seating area under an awning and a polytunnel so that students can start propagating their own seedlings.

“There’s still a lot of work to do on the site, but it’s an ongoing project and the hope is that we can keep bringing in volunteers and getting people involved in the gardening group”.

Several local organisations contributed to the redevelopment project, with Sisk Construction providing the timber, Cara Construction building planters and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service filling the water tanks.

The project also received support from Recycling Lives, a charity that works to rehabilitate offenders and support people experiencing homelessness through sustainable waste management services and community food redistribution, and Riverview Development Trust.

Maria Ashes, Project Manager at the Whitechapel Centre, said: “Along with GTDT’s support and the offer of a structured learning course, we enrolled several members in a continuing education course delivered by GTDT on how to care for the garden. 

“We also received support from several other organisations, which offered to clear the site. The sleepers needed to be reconstructed, and the old ones removed. Lots of rubbish also had to be removed. There was a lot of work to be done.

“We could only have made this happen with all the collaborative work.

“This is an excellent example of what can be achieved by working in collaboration. Those involved in creating it and making it happen will enjoy this garden, and the whole community will also benefit from a lovely space for all to enjoy”.


Featured image: The New Beginnings Garden of Hope (Jay Donnelly).


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