How volunteers keep the borough Green 'n' TidyBy Laura Herbert
August 30, 2012
Since its launch last year Wokingham borough’s Green ‘n’ Tidy scheme has helped 78 people with tasks such as weeding and mowing lawns.
The service relies on volunteers who visit the homes of elderly and disabled people no longer able to maintain their own gardens.
Chief reporter LAURA HERBERT found out more about the service.
For the last seven years Kathleen Harris hasn’t set foot in her own garden.
The 64-year-old, who is partially sighted and suffers from mobility problems, was unable to maintain the gardens of her Finchampstead home.
She said: “It’s something so simple to tidy up a garden, but it changes everything.
“Before I would look through the window at it all overgrown, and get frustrated because I couldn’t do anything about it.”
But, volunteers from the Green ‘n’ Tidy scheme cut the lawn and cleared moss and weeds from the front and back garden as part of a joint project between Wokingham Borough Council’s tenant services, the commissioning team and the voluntary sector.
“Now I can sit in my garden and enjoy it. It’s a huge weight off my mind,” she said.
The scheme, run by Wokingham Volunteer Centre, offers basic gardening for elderly and disabled people who are no longer able to maintain their own properties, and lack family support and finances to employ businesses.
The service, which launched last August and began work on gardens in October 2011, currently offers lawn mowing, hedge trimming and weeding to council and private homes across the borough.
People can be referred to the scheme through tenant services, social services, community safety wardens, friends and relatives or alternatively they can put themselves forward for it.
Simon Price, head of tenant services at the council, said: “The service is very important and highly valued.
“Unkempt gardens are both dangerous for people to use and attract doorstep and opportunistic crime.
“The service enables older and disabled residents to have gardens cleared and maintained for a nominal cost.
“The service also provides social contact for customers and works closely with community groups and will signpost and refer customers to other sources of support, such as social services, where this is appropriate.
“The service has received many testimonials from customers.”
He added: “Volunteers are vital to the service and it has proved popular with those who are registered with Wokingham Volunteer Centre.
“It provides a fulfilling volunteering opportunity for a wide variety of people, including people who have disabilities who are supported to become involved.
“Volunteers receive training and are managed and supervised by staff from the volunteer centre.”
Between April and June, the nine volunteers in the scheme have devoted more than 150 hours working on gardens.
Councillor Julian McGhee Sumner, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “This service changes lives.
“But there are many more people like Kathleen who need help, so we want to extend the scheme.
“We’re keen to hear from people who’d like to give some time to volunteer.
“You don’t need to be a gardener – just have a couple of spare hours to give, enjoy being outdoors, and being part of a friendly team.”
The scheme is looking for more volunteers – if you can help call (0118) 977 0749 or email email@example.com.