Cutting back trees, clearing up litter and cutting overgrown grass might not sound like the ideal Sunday, but for Heather Clisset and the volunteers of the Erskine Community Garden this is what they look forward to – and not just on Sundays.
The inspiring volunteer group are working around the clock to bring a derelict piece of land back to life, as they look to create a recreational and educational space which will include a growing area for fruit bushes and trees, a sensory pleasing maze lined with scented flowers and peaceful zone for communities to relax and meet up in.
There is plenty of work ahead to make this a reality though and the group are looking forward to the introduction of a new fund designed to improve and upgrade green spaces across Renfrewshire.
Heather said: “This will be a great funding source for communities and groups like ourselves to access much needed money to get a project started, as well as pushing forward evolving plans. It makes it realistic for communities to gain land or property to enhance the lives of all who live there.
“It is an investment in a place and its people, and hopefully a stepping stone for the community to gel, work together and explore what more they can do for their area.”
The £1.87million Green Spaces, Park and Play Areas and Villages Investment Fund will give community groups and volunteers the opportunity to apply for funding and support to take forward projects which will strengthen the character, identity and heritage of their local community.
This could include upgrading or developing play areas or equipment, opening up underused open spaces to create leisure or recreation opportunities, or creating heritage trails or walks which highlight local points of interest.
Heather added: “People should make a difference to their local areas because we can’t wait on someone else doing it when we might be the someone else.
“Local people know what the place they live in needs and this fund could help give us the ability to make our vision into reality.
“We want to give people a place to get together and socialise, as well as improving the area of land, so the benefit isn’t just the visual transformation but also the potential social transformation of people in the area too.”
£370,000 of the investment has been designated in support of a Villages Investment Fund which will encourage applications from smaller communities and will deliver projects that highlight and build upon the heritage and uniqueness of village life.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Erskine Community Garden have a clear vision for their project in wanting to tunr an area of derelict land into a recreational space for the community.
“This fund is designed for ventures just like this and will give people the opportunity to make a real difference to their local area.
“I would encourage all community groups or volunteers who have an idea to improve a green space to submit an application and we will closely with all applicants to provide as much support as we can to turn these ideas into reality.”
The new fund will be open from 1 October 2018 and a dedicated section of the council website has been created to ensure local groups and residents are fully aware of how they can apply, what they can apply for and what is expected of the successful applicants.
For more information on how to access the fund and to submit your application, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/