A boring shrubbery that once provided cover for antisocial behaviour was transformed into a haven for wildlife through the work of the Bankside Open Services Trust (BOST) and its many partners in the local community.
The garden at Christ Church on Blackfriars Road in Southwark, south London now features a huge range of plants that attract bees, butterflies and small mammals, as well as evening primroses and tobacco plants for moths, and log piles for stag beetles and fungi.
Almost 70 volunteers helped create the garden and many local groups were also involved: the bird boxes were made by homeless people at St Mungo’s and visually impaired people from the Blackfriars settlement planted the hanging baskets with a range of sensory plants.
The garden is also a place of refuge for the inhabitants of nearby tower blocks and there are regular arts and crafts activities for local families. One volunteer, previously unemployed, is now training for a career in horticulture.
It is just one example of the work done by BOST, a charity that works in parks, gardens and other open spaces in an area south of the Thames near London Bridge. Famous for the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, this area is also home for many families and individuals alongside the offices and workplaces that dominate the area. BOST hopes its work in green spaces will draw people together and help them become more active and informed members of their community.
The work includes planning and managing parks, re-landscaping and running celebratory events. BOST works with frustrated gardeners to turn under-used areas of open space into places where people can grow vegetables. It runs clubs to help people improve their gardening skills. The emphasis is on turning local concerns into inclusive action, involving local people and working alongside partners such as the police, Southwark council and nearby businesses. Some of the area’s many homeless people are involved as volunteers.
Scores of residents have benefited from BOST projects. helping to bring local communities together. The biggest need now is for long-term investment to ensure the work continues to grow.
More information: http://www.bost.org.uk/