We’re continuing to facilitate workshops as part of the Gardens of Refuge project with refugees and asylum-seekers who use the local services of CARAS in Tooting.

This is the project for which our partnership won funding from Aviva – via the public voting so many people joined last autumn.

The emphasis of Gardens of Refuge is on creating therapeutic experiences where participants feel happy and safe to explore imaginative activities together.

We’re working alongide the CARAS team and volunteers with two groups:

  • with the Saturday Youth Club (mostly unaccompanied teenagers) 
  • and with Family Activity Days (adults and children in half terms and school holidays)

Here’s the story from Gardens of Refuge in March and April:

Saturday Youth Club: our sessions take place alongside a whole range of other social and learning activities at the youth club. Success is when groups and individuals come and join in for some or all of the time, because they want to, and try out new things as well as building on what we all did together in ’15 & ’16 in ‘Rooting in Tooting’.

In the 24th March and 1st April sessions the Club has built two pallet-planters and painted them ready for planting up.

Below right, one of last year’s flourishing planters.

We’ve also made a new vertical strawberry planter of textile (a theatre blackout curtain from the Scrapstore). Young people problem-solved how to make the planter, folding, tucking and stapling the heavy cloth onto a big piece of plywood (part of the old Community Garden fence…). 

They planted it up with strawberries (these same plants were growing at CARAS in 2016 and overwintered in the Community Garden). The pallet planters and this strawberry wall are all at the entrance to the CARAS office, and the idea is for the benefits to be enjoyed by passers-by and visitors alike – a real Garden of Refuge in busy urban Tooting.

April Family Activity Day: After our growing-based Day in February, we’re continuing to link family activities with our plans to offer sessions later in ’17 in the Community Garden.

Our idea is to create a collaborative mural for the ‘ceiling’ of the rainwater harvesting roof in the Community Garden.
 It’s an exciting open-air space and the mural’s theme will be ‘Water’.

That gives huge scope for decoration, pictures, ideas, celebration, story telling and sharing.  
Water is life-giving for us all and for what we grow. Water is rich with diverse meanings worldwide.

The rainwater harvesting roof built with Gatton School in ’13. Soon to have a ceiling mural!

On Tuesday 11 April we made a start by immersing ourselves in ideas and images and different materials – there are so many threads to follow up.

Thanks for these FAD photos, Nikki!

The next session is in May, and we can’t wait…

Another benefit is that the project is attracting new volunteers who have added their energy and diverse experience – so our whole group is learning together en route. Thanks to all the volunteer team & for your co-ordination, Dermot and Jeni! 

We welcome contacts from others who would like to be involved, or who have ideas and resources to contribute.
Please contact us by emailing TTT here.

Yum! The crop in 2016’s textile planter

 – Charles