Outdoor Oasis opens in Runcorn Old Town with help from Merseylink Time Bank
Halton Housing Trust customers living at Brunswick House in Runcorn were celebrating yesterday after Derek Twigg MP opened their new look garden.
Customers raised enough money over the last twelve months to transform the once run down central courtyard into a vibrant and tranquil outdoor haven, full of flowers, trees and plants.
Merseylink, the construction consortium building the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
Following an application to the Merseylink Time Bank, Brunswick House, which provides supported accommodation for older people, received a ground survey and technical drawings to set out the style, required materials and suggested vegetation.
Merseylink used the expertise of environmental consultancy partner, RSK Environment Ltd, who provided a landscape architect to design the outdoor space, while four general construction apprentices helped to physically create the garden.
The Trust’s grounds maintenance team also lent a hand, with some even working at the weekends to finish the project.
Mike Angell is assistant housing support manager for Amethyst Living, the Trust’s support service for older people. He said:
“It’s been a 12 month journey to achieve the garden and it looks fantastic. Brunswick House customers did a lot of fundraising themselves and they not only ended up with a usable garden, but the community spirit of the building has been lifted.”
Brunswick House Residents Association also contributed £700 of their own money to pay for garden furniture, raised £180 from a bric-a-brac stall on Runcorn Market and carried out many more fundraising activities over the last year to help pay for the garden.
Secretary Ann Burns said: “Since we approached Merseylink Time Bank our project went from strength to strength. If we had to pay for the work ourselves it would have taken all of the funding we had raised and more. Our new garden is beyond our wildest dreams. We really cannot thank Merseylink Time Bank enough for helping us to complete our project.”
Wheelchair friendly due to its level access, Amethyst Living customers with mobility problems can use the garden all year round for socialising with family and friends. Groups such as Tai Chi and bingo will also be able to use the garden as a central meeting point. Raised beds have been built for growing fruit and vegetables, and landscaped seating areas create a space for socialising.
Neil Wilcock, employment and skills coordinator at Merseylink, said:
“We are delighted to have been able to assist Brunswick House with this fantastic community project. By harnessing the skills and expertise available through our Time Bank scheme, we were able to provide specialist support to the value of around £2,000. The transformation of the garden is incredible and I’m sure the residents will gain a huge amount of enjoyment from their new outdoor space.”
Customer Brian Street said: “We want the garden to create more of a community spirit at Brunswick. Customers who are isolated and housebound will now have somewhere to relax.”
The next round of Merseylink Time Bank funding applications opens in September 2015. If you have an idea for your community and want to apply, application forms can be downloaded from www.merseygateway.co.uk/merseylink/time-bank