Residents at Homeless Hostel run ‘Grown your Own’ project
Published by Chenoa Parr for Symphony Housing Group in Housing and also in Communities, Environment
Resident Ray Davies and Support Worker Phil Nettle
Green-fingered residents at homeless hostel Alt Bank House are enjoying a bumper harvest after transforming their garden into a mini allotment.
A team of keen amateur gardeners have spent the last six months planting, nurturing, watering and harvesting fruit, vegetables and herbs in the back garden of the Fazakerley hostel which is home to 42 single homeless men and women in modern self-contained flats.
The new state-of-the-art building, which is run by Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT), opened its doors in March and helps vulnerable people break the vicious cycle of homelessness.
A group of residents have slowly transformed the garden with a ‘grow your own’ project resulting in six raised beds with a wildflower patch and potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflowers, cabbages and strawberries growing in abundance.
Alt Bank House and the ‘grow your own’ project has been a lifeline for resident Ray Davies.
The 49-year-old became homeless 18 months ago after his father died and he struggled to pay the household bills for his Kirkby home out of his wages.
He said: “I’d be sleeping rough and living in a room at the back of a shop with just a sofa to sleep on.
“When I moved to Alt Bank House it made all the difference because now I have people to talk to, I’ve got a little flat of my own and a proper bed to sleep in. I’m slowly getting back on my feet again.
“I really enjoy the gardening. I’ve eaten some of the potatoes, onions and carrots we’ve grown and they are just so fresh there’s no better taste.”
The produce grown is being used for basic cookery courses for residents in the new training kitchen and used by residents to make their own home cooked food.
Senior support worker Phil Nettle, who helps coordinate the project, said: “It’s been brilliant. All the residents are interested in the project but there’s a core team of four or five residents who are really enthusiastic and have given a lot of their time to it.
“We recycled and borrowed things we needed, and the £700 grant from LHT was a great help, plus people donated seeds and plants.
“We have expansion plans for next year with a big strip of back garden earmarked for further cultivation and we’re looking forward to inviting more and more local people to participate.”
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