At the heart of what we do is the difference our donors hope to make by funding local people in their communities. Transition Chichester is a great example of just such a group. Led and run by voluntary members of the local community, the group received a £2,500 grant from the Cragwood Fund last year to support work on its Grow Chichester project at the Bishops Palace Gardens vegetable plot. The plot is a historical walled garden in the grounds of Chichester Cathedral and, thanks to the hard work of volunteers the group has created a community garden with raised beds. The Cragwood Fund grant has enabled the group to deliver 46 weekly sessions of low impact gardening tailored to the needs of older people, people with health conditions, disabilities or mobility difficulties of all ages.
Ray Stewart (above) and his mother Doreen are two people who have benefited. Ray and Doreen moved into sheltered accommodation in Chichester, eighteen months ago. Ray had to take early retirement from his work as an engineer due to early onset Parkinson’s disease. His mother, who is 86 years of age, is his carer. Before the onset of his illness, Ray was a very keen gardener who managed a large garden. When he moved to sheltered accommodation, Ray began to suffer from depression and his health deteriorated sharply. He found out about the Grow Chichester project through a poster at the entrance to the garden. Since then, Ray and his mother have attended gardening sessions regularly and have made a big difference to the garden. Ray now has his own patch where he experiments with no-dig and permaculture techniques. He is also a mine of information about all things gardening, and shares his knowledge with other participants. The group’s therapeutic horticulturalist has worked with Ray to harness his strengths and to ensure that he does not overdo things. Ray’s consultant at St Richard’s Hospital has indicated that his general health and short-term memory have improved considerably since he became involved with the garden. Doreen also is actively involved with the garden and has made a circle of friends since she started to attend. The garden is very much a focal point for both their lives.