Making Weir Hall Road Community Open Space wonderful
By Joanna Yeung
The Weir Hall Road Community Open Space in Weir Hall Road is a long stretch of land next to the Devonshire Hill Primary School field. Located opposite the Weymarks Estate, the space has been used by locals as a bypass to reach home and school. Dog walkers, and morning exercisers from the regular users of the space, which has served as a playground and hang-out place since the 1970s.
In the last ten years, the site has become a fly-tipping hot spot. It was unpleasant, full of nettles, knotweeds and litter. The Covid-19 lockdown in mid-March spurred me on to take action. I was furloughed from work, so each morning, I went to the space and started to litter pick and pull out the weeds. I was spending between 15 to 30 minutes cleaning a metre square, or one bag of rubbish at a time. As time went by, I extended my time spent on cleaning, and the community social action project came into effect.
The aims and purpose of the project developed gradually; they are for the community to share (resources, time, and skills), grow (plants and food), and learn (sustainable living). The project is free, and open to anyone wanting to improve the space for community use. So far, there are a handful of volunteers from the surrounding neighbourhood offering their time and expertise to do much needed tasks on a regular basis. Litter picking and land cleaning are the ongoing tasks, and the food planting started in April when seeds and sprouts were donated to the project.
People from all demographics are taking part in shaping the open space. The acts of litter picking, ground cleaning, food growing and gardening skills have become the common interests for the local community. This has been particularly important during the lockdown period where people have been relying more on having access to local resources, and the need to connect to one another in a safe space whilst spending time closer to home, with reduced travelling.
The community helping to shape the open space is encouraged to share their aspirations for the space, this includes: building a mushroom farm, planting trees, raising funds for facilities, installing a water well, and establishing a formal group.
This project is demonstrating a healthy lifestyle for families to adopt; people are experiencing the fun of gardening and they are being introduced to the benefits of green space for, physical, mental and social health, which during these particular times of the pandemic, is a priority for all.
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