The Tidy Randalstown Environmental Group in Northern Ireland, with support from the Police Property Fund, have been delivering a project to teach young people about gardening, caring for the environment and citizenship.
Tidy Randalstown is one of thirty-one organisations across Northern Ireland to have received funding from the Police Property Fund Small Grants Scheme earlier this year for their “Young Citizens of the Future Project”. The project delivered a series of environmental and community focused workshops and practical sessions with Year 8 pupils from St Benedict’s College, the local post-primary school.
Over six months the pupils gathered for one morning a month to learn, through practical experience, about gardening, caring for the environment and citizenship, as well as interacting with the residents of the local Maine Fold assisted living complex and the Community Police Officers.
The key elements included making hanging baskets for the town, gardening projects at the residential complex for the elderly, life-skills and gardening for biodiversity. The aim of the project is to help young people improve on their interpersonal skills, increase their understanding of ecosystems and how they can influence biodiversity and to give the young people a sense of ownership.
When the Britain in Bloom judges visited the town, they met the participants in the project and their feedback report made the following remarks:
“The Young Citizens of the Future Project highlighted the inter-generational work with the children, residents and the community police. This initiative must bring the next generation forward to continue with the pride in the town. It was a joy to see the community together at the Maine Fold residential complex for the elderly, with old and young alike sharing skills, experiences and company in a way seldom witnessed in a busy world.”
The Tidy Randalstown group was the driver behind the transformation of an old railway viaduct, developing it into a lovely public park on the bridge akin to the High Line in New York.
Traversing the River Maine, Randalstown’s Elevation Park is the first of its kind in Ireland and is one of four installations across the UK which were designated a Royal Horticultural `Society community garden as part of the 2022 National Gardening Week.
The garden design is linear, as dictated by the bridge, however, pathways at different angles, seating areas and a series of arches create different focal points. The metal edges to the flower beds are a nod to the railway lines and the series of eight metal arches signify the eight arches of the actual viaduct itself. The metal arches replicate the size of the train carriages which were used on that railway line.
Police CPI’s Pete Connolly MBE. BSc Hons said: ““Having read about Elevation Park in the papers, I took the opportunity to visit with colleagues to see first hand the great work done there. It is a fine example of how good design can promote positive activity and support community safety. The Tidy Randalstown group is to be congratulated for its role in developing the project.”