In recent weeks, dedicated members of the Penhill community have been working hard to bring some life into the Uplands Community Centre garden in lower Penhill. This fantastic project was taken up by the Penhill Street Reps, a volunteer community group supported by Swindon Borough Council (SBC) Housing, Mr John Paine alongside his wife Bev and a group of happy young helpers.
The project began when Ms Di Pithers wanted to re-purpose some of the materials from the old Sure Start building off of Penhill Drive. Soon, Di welcomed in John and Bev Paine who worked very hard creating the planters, also roping in her young son and his friends. Sarah Howes, who runs the Uplands centre says ‘what the Street Reps have done is simply fantastic,’ stating how all the plants are edible and how they will be used to teach taste, feel and smell for fresh fruit as well as potentially using them in their Community Café every Friday from 10:30 – midday.
This is another great example of Swindon communities coming together to improve the environment in which they live. When asked what involvement was received from the community; many local residents donated time and edible plants for the project and also some involvement from Lackham College, providing soil and liners for the planters and even sharing this experience with the younger generation.
One of the young helpers was quoted saying ‘we all feel so proud to have been involved in something positive’. When asked if they had learned anything from this experience, the responses were overall very positive, saying how they had learned all about edible plants and picked up some gardening skills and realised that they could ‘do more positive activities in their community instead of playing video games and watching tele’.
After revealing the new planters to SBC Housing, Tenant Participation Officer Mr Nick Brock asked why they volunteer in the Street Rep Scheme and what do they receive out of it: ‘I care about the community where I live and I aim to make a positive contribution to it. I want to make a difference. Everyone should be able to enjoy Penhill,’ stating how 'feeling good about their community is the only reward that they need'.
Hopefully all residents and people passing through Penhill should have noticed the ‘Twenty is Plenty’ signs that have cropped up around the main roads in Penhill. This is yet another example of the involvement that Street Reps have had in their local area, making a change and encouraging the area to be safer for all whilst grabbing the attention and involvement of the younger generations who had designed the road signs.
With such a positive effect on local adults, youths and children we needed to know… what’s next for the Street Reps? It may only be speculation for now, however they are looking at the creation of Junior Street Reps for younger residents to get directly involved.
If you wish to be involved in your local area just like our existing Street Reps in Penhill, Pinehurst and West Swindon please contact Nick Brock at SBC Housing to find out if you can make that possible. ‘We have regular meetings and offer one to ones as well as supporting this role with training’ says Nick.
As long as you live on a council housing estate you can become a Street Rep and we will work together to realise your ideas and make them work. Everyone has value to give, what’s yours?