St Mark’s Teddington Partners with Police on Community Gardening
Over the last year, the Vicar of St Mark’s Teddington has been working in partnership on an environmental project with the local police, after concerns about drug dealing and anti-social behaviour on the local estate.
The parish Vicar the Revd Karen Wellman was put in contact with PC Andy Pakouta from the Central Safer Neighbourhood’s Team, as the church has had problems with drug dealing in the area.
One of the ways in which the police engage with local communities is to help set up a two stage Inter-generational Community project. The first stage is gardening followed by computing. The first stage of gardening has spread across five London boroughs.
The aim is to get younger and older people to help each other, break down barriers, learn about each other’s backgrounds and cultures, and thereby potentially help reduce anti-social behaviour.
Project partners and locations include social housing estates, youth clubs, assisted living accommodation, secure living accommodation, schools and drop-in centres – and churches. There are around 15 projects on the go, with others waiting to join.
Garden centres, seed & bulb companies and Hampton Court Palace / flower show have all donated items. Other organisations such as the RHS, Twickenham England Rugby, Harlequins Rugby, local council are just some of the people who have been attending and helping at various events.
Now a fresh new garden has been created from a partially neglected area on the estate next to St Mark’s Church. The residents and some of the local community in partnership with the local police and Karen cleared the neglected areas and planted new plants and various herbs. This allowed the estate residents to interact with each other along with their nearby neighbours plus help to give the area a makeover.
The congregation at the church have found working with the police is useful, as they can bring more volunteers in the form of police cadets. They have been able to use their contacts along with other community members, and various companies to see if they would like to donate anything towards the projects by way of plants, seeds, and gardening tools.
Commenting on the success of the project, The Revd Karen Wellman said:
“Our community gardening day was great fun. The adults and teenagers worked hard to clear the weeds and plants that had died in the heat and the children helped with the planting. After hours of hard work, tea, cake, and sandwiches, we have a colourful garden for everyone to enjoy. We hope that there will be more of days of gardening for everyone to enjoy.”
To learn more about the police’s community relations and about this project, contact Andrew Pakouta.