OVER the past year, green spaces have been more important than ever, allowing people to reconnect, focus and relax.
Now, people who used to be homeless and are receiving support from Emmaus South Wales have given nature and the local community a boost thanks to a garden scheme from environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy.
Bridgend-based charity, Emmaus South Wales, offers people who have been homeless or socially excluded a place to live for as long as they need it and work experience in a social enterprise.
Through the Keep Wales Tidy ‘Local Places for Nature’ development package, residents at Emmaus South Wales have received free training, advice, practical help and support to renovate the charity’s garden, create a vegetable and herb growing area, and build wildlife hotels made out of recycled wood.
The ‘Local Places for Nature’ package is available to community groups and organisations to help them install new green spaces and also provides tools, materials and equipment to care for them long-term.
Marc Roberts, Head of Retail, said:
“Our retail operation provides the formerly homeless people we support with meaningful work opportunities. Since March 2020, this has been drastically affected by the pandemic, and our shops have been closed for long periods of time. Having this project from Keep Wales Tidy has helped keep the people we support engaged and active, which has improved their mental health and well-being. We now have a space to grow our own fruit and vegetables for our community kitchen and to sell fresh produce to the wider community to help us become more sustainable in the future.”
Some people stay at Emmaus for a few months before they are ready to move on; others require longer-term support and can stay for years if they need to. Residents can get involved in a number of projects during their time at Emmaus to learn new skills, and most recently have been working in the garden, making beeswax wraps to sell in the charity’s shops, and producing face masks using donated materials.
Deputy Chief Executive for Keep Wales Tidy, Louise Tambini, said:
“We’re delighted that groups like Emmaus South Wales have had the opportunity to make a positive difference through Local Places for Nature. We look forward to seeing how their new food growing area benefits the local community as well as the nature on their doorstep.”
The initiative is part of a wider £5m Welsh Government ‘Local Places for Nature’ fund committed to acquiring, restoring and enhancing nature ‘on your doorstep’.
Packages are still available to community groups and organizations. To apply for Local Places for Nature, please visit: www.keepwalestidy.cymru/nature.
To find out more about Emmaus South Wales, please visit: www.emmaus.org.uk/south-wales.