A group of church volunteers spent the weekend clearing away overgrown hedging, to mark the beginning of a project aimed at engaging with the local community more.
Harrowby Lane Methodist Church and Community Centre, Harrowby Lane, felt that the hedge was acting as a barrier between the church and residents living nearby.
Sue Barnes, who joined the church in 2005. said: “We want people to realise that we are not just a church but a busy community centre too with lots going on. We felt that the hedge was hiding much of the building and acting as a deterrent.”
Up to 20 green-fingered volunteers spent Saturday morning cutting the hedge down.
Sue added: “It was very overgrown and prickly and once we started cutting it back, we uncovered litter, graffiti and lighters. It was quite a haven. By opening it all up, it will hopefully reduce any risk of any anti-social behaviour that might have previously taken place in that area.” Getting rid of the hedge is just the start of a much larger project and long-term vision for the centre. Plans are already in place to landscape the outside area and create a garden with raised planting areas, where the local community can come and grow fruit and vegetables. It will also have additional outdoor seating areas to encourage more social interaction.
It is not just outside the centre that changes will be made.
Sue, who is heading up the project, added: “We would like to start hosting more clubs aimed specifically at the people living nearby and in particular, a support group for lonely and bereaved people,”
The centre is already used by lots of community groups and organisations including girlguides, a toddler group, a friendship club, Knit and natter and a weekly breakfast club. A new breast feeding support group also opened two weeks ago.
In a bid to get more local residents using the centre, they have created a questionnaire for local residents.
Sue added: “In the next few weeks, we will be doing a leaflet drop in some of the local areas, to ask for feedback about what they would like to see at the church and community centre. We want to listen to the local people and give them what they need.”
Despite it still being early days for the project, Sue is positive about its future.
She added: “We are all excited to see how the project will develop over time.”