Many thanks to our partners and colleagues at KDYT for a wonderful celebration of 50 years of providing opportunities and support to young people in the locality. Five members of our Friends group attended the event at the Youth House in the centre of Kidderminster just across the Ring Road and adjacent to St George's Park. We have been meeting at the refurbished and impressively updated KDYT base for quite a while now and look upon KDYT as a partner in neighbourhood and community development. We were treated to Harriers Pies (including the vegetarian variety) made famous at the Aggborough Stadium, home to Kidderminster Harriers FC and also to cottage pies and cheese pies at the top of the premier division of football ground fare. Having enjoyed our Harriers pies and excellent local ale from Bewdley Brewery we were treated to two videos about KDYT featuring its founder former Mayor Charles Talbot and Trustee local councillor Fran Oborski, who were both also there in person. The videos featuring current staff and users paid tribute to the project that began in 1966 and which both Charles and Fran provided the background story to. Dancing featuring the Belly Fusion Dance Collective opened the entertainment with an impressive display of gypsy/belly dance fusion and later more entertainment from the Talking Props Theatre Company, whose singing and dancing skills illuminated extracts from 'Happy Days'. Our presence at this important local celebration, attended by the current Mayor Cllr Rose Bishop and Deputy Mayor Cllr Mary Rayner and MC'd by Rev Justin Parker, symbolises the widespread support in the area for the Friends group and especially for our pet project Let's Eat the Park (LEAP). The evening's celebration of a vision by Charles Talbot half a century ago, which is a reality today that is still expanding and developing is looked upon as a role model for LEAP and its sustainability agenda. The natural affinity between the People's Park and our near neighbour the Youth House is built upon a commitment to make our town and the locality as environmentally friendly and sustaining as we can possibly achieve. KDYT were very quick to recognise the importance of volunteer community organisations working together, to provide a network of mutual support to each other and to all of the community reaching out to people of all ages. Events like KDYT's Celebration and Awards Evening strengthen these bonds and join up more of the the dots, as any resilient community must do if it is to reach its full potential. We thank our hosts for inviting us to an event that reminds us that what we are doing is for the long haul and sustainability transcends all fixed term initiatives and transient administrations with a much bigger generational mission. Kidderminster and District Youth Trust is an inspiration to all of us who are working to translate the bigger picture in ways that have a practical impact in the here and now. We wish KDYT another 50 years of success in engaging young people's imagination and energies to work toward a more fulfilling and inclusive local scene - congratulations and very well done! We all had a really great time.
The Friends' work party today completed some of the winter works begun on the rockery last week and did a litter pick inside St George's Park and around the perimeters on both Radford Avenue and the Ring Road. Soon LEAP will be dominating our activities and we have been discussing forthcoming sowing and propagating arrangements today. But for now we have been doing what the Friends group have been consistently doing since 2012 when we asked Wyre Forest District Council to end herbicide use in the park and that is general maintenance, weeding, edging and cutting back shrubs etc. The LEAP team is a weekly occurrence in the park. It was good to get more positive feedback from several people passing through the park today, it is our most consistent source of data on our impact and so far it has been entirely supportive of the Let's Eat the Park project. Unfortunately it is not possible to capture and bottle this goodwill except as anecdotal evidence that what the team does is appreciated by the majority of people in the area of all ages, races, levels of ability and both sexes. This sort of data is invaluable to impact assessments, but it happens spontaneously and is freely given without prompting so is like Scotch mist, our evidence base struggles to capture the way people engage with the project and all the other free stuff the Friends group arrange in the park.
LEAP Work Party Volunteers will again be gathering at the shelter in St George's Park around 10am tomorrow Sat 27 February. What could be a better way to spend a couple of hours of Leap Weekend than in a LEAP work party? Gloves and tools available as is good company, outdoor activity at your own pace, being part of growing free food, making the park look good, making the park work for us as a community asset, grabbing some green wellbeing and of course the refreshments in the process.
Today's work party was a great success involving seven volunteers in work on the rockery and bench alcoves as well as a general litter pick and tidy up around the park. Added to the gardening we did, a new interpretation board was fixed to the wall by the labyrinth.
The new information point reminds park visitors that a lot is happening in St George's Park and surrounding areas. Some of it about food for the body and some of it food for the mind. It was gratifying when a local dad with three of his children using the play equipment complimented us on the work the Friends group do in the park. He expressed complete support for LEAP and like most people we speak to think it's a good use of the park and other local green spaces. More successes included news that the County Council have agreed to signpost disabled access, after the alterations we had been campaigning for for years gave disabled access to the Silver Street entrance. Actually if the County Council had consulted the Friends group directly we would have suggested they arrange for four signs, since all gates to St George's Park are now wheelchair accessible.
The Friends group have taken advice from Disability Action Wyre Forest on access issues and have worked closely with DAWF to ensure equality of access to LEAP raised beds. This having been noted we are pleased that the access issues have now been addressed and everyone can enjoy the park from whichever direction they approach it from.
More feedback came to us today in the form of St George's Churchyard Gardener's AGM Report which mentioned the project and the LEAP in the churchyard initiative. The quotation below gives some glimpse of the free food network LEAP has been instrumental in achieving.
"During the last year the alcove gardens have been very productive with flowers, herbs and vegetables. The vegetable patch, next to the compost heap, produced a good crop of potatoes. Friends of St George's Park adopted 2 alcove gardens as part of their LEAP (Let's Eat the Park) project. All produce is 'pick your own' and is free to the general public. We plan to build on this success during 2016 - 2107." St George's Churchyard Gardeners Report 2015-2016
A number of developments have further lifted our spirits during the Winter period not least learning that our main funder The People's Health Trust have signed off our progress report and impact analysis thereby releasing a new tranche of funding for Let's Eat the Park.
Other actual and potential funders have contacted us recently with whom we are having a conversation about the next phase of LEAP as well as everyone whose feedback is reinvested in the evolving direction of the project. LEAP is now in its last semester of initial funding having established a variety of streams, some quite big some quite small, but all crucially important to maintaining sustainable development in the funded area.
The LEAP project basically takes electronic cash transfers and by a process of alchemy converts them into raspberries, runner beans, onions, the like of which we give away free to people visiting the park or living in the locality. It works well, all the signs tell us that the initiative is well regarded. The dad referred to earlier said at one point "you guys ought be rewarded for what you do" the reply was that the park is itself the reward - to see it looking good and serving lots of purposes for the community is reward enough. He has childcare responsibilities for five children he told us but wants to get involved as and when time allows, but speaking to us today, expressing his appreciation of how well the park is cared for means he is already involved. As are several new volunteers we have welcomed to work parties in the last couple of weeks. Even during the winter months the work parties have continued more or less every week for getting on for two years with a sustained degree of enthusiasm and a vision of new directions. Watch out for further news soon on our recent contact with the Royal Horticultural Society and our celebration of Kidderminster and District Youth Trust's 50th anniversary next week.
There will be a LEAP work party in St George's Park on Saturday 20 February. Usual arrangements, meet at the shelter at 10am- look out for the Hi-Viz vests. Ongoing winter works, tidying and upkeep to get involved in. Free refreshments, gloves and tools for loan, all welcome! It seems likely that there will also be a work party on Saturday 27 February please watch website and social media for updates on that.
On Friday 4 March there will be a meeting of the Friends group at the Youth House, Bromsgrove Street, Kidderminster DY10 1PF Starts 7pm. All welcome! We look forward to seeing you at one or both of these events.
Also the Friends are looking forward to celebrating 50 years of Kidderminster and District Youth Trust, our partners in LEAP and fellow local activists.
We are meeting at the Youth House, Bromsgrove Street on Friday 5 February at 7pm - Why not come along and find out what FoSGP are up to and get the latest news on Let's Eat the Park?
Refreshments available - new members welcome!
Also - there will be a LEAP work party in St George's Park Saturday 6 February usual arrangement Meet at the Shelter at 10am
ACTIVITIES depending on the weather (forecast not great) there will be maintenance work to the shelter itself, other park tidying/improvement activities AS CONDITIONS ALLOW and of course - the indispensable
FREE refreshments - GLOVES AND TOOLS AVAILABLE!
If you are interested in the work of the group, community gardening and the wider activities of FoSGP please come along and say hello.
Friends of St George's Park
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