Community support

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


Since 2015, volunteers from Queen Edith’s Community Forum, a neighbourhood association in suburban Cambridge, have turned a disused bowling green into Nightingale Garden - a ‘biodiverse garden for everyone to enjoy’.

Each week in Nightingale Garden, we have two well-attended garden volunteering sessions and a social walk - plus lots of one-off events. Park users of all ages use the garden all day, every day, including staff, patients and visitors from our local busy hospital, just a few minutes’ walk away.
All activities are free for anyone to join in – or to just drink tea and have a biscuit in good company.

With recent S106 developer-levy funding via Cambridge City Council, we have worked to make the garden fully accessible with new raised beds suitable for wheelchair-users. We have a mains water supply, and a large and beautiful nature pond that can be used for pond-dipping. Throughout the garden, we have made wildlife habitats, we grow produce to nibble on and share, and have lots and lots of flowers. Families love our garden, especially in the Summer.
Local schools and nurseries would like to bring groups of children to the garden but the logistics of doing this are complex – they need somewhere to store their equipment on site and somewhere to keep children’s bags and coats while they are in the garden.

Our only storage and covered space is the wooden, former bowls club hut and a small metal lean-to. The latter has lots of holes and resident mice. Both are now bursting at their seams, piled up with furniture, tools, kitchen items and equipment for activities.

To work safely and include even more people, we desperately need more storage and so have a plan for a bespoke ‘Shed of our Dreams’. Our DreamShed would have three parts, each with its own padlock: a Garden Shed for muddy (sometimes sharp) tools and our lawnmower; a Children’s Shed for visiting nursery and school groups to store their own equipment, separate from the rest of the garden tools; and a Maker’s Shed, with woodworking and craft tools. The latter will help us develop our community-shed activities: making bug hotels and repairing, upcycling and making outdoor furniture - not just for our garden but also for local projects. Currently, all woodworking and construction has to be done outside.

With the increased storage space in the DreamShed, we can make the existing club hut into a comfortable, attractive FriendlyShed, kitted out for people to huddle over a hot drink in the colder, wetter months.

A bespoke, strong DreamShed will cost approximately £8,200, including groundworks, but excluding electrical supply, painting and fitting out. In Autumn 2016, we applied for further developer-levy support to fund a DreamShed, but our application didn’t meet their strict criteria. If we have funding in place, we can start building the DreamShed in early 2018. Our garden volunteers are very keen to kit it out and make it attractive. It will then be ready to support primary science in the 2018 pond-dipping season, and even more volunteers and events.

Project Video

Queen Edith's Community Forum

The Forum, and its garden volunteers, have created a popular, community focus in an area with low social cohesion and no community centre. Our community is very multi-national, with many people living alone. The garden is full of flowers and wildlife but also people making new friends.

Location: Nightingale Avenue, Cambridge, United Kingdom