The Covid-19 crisis has challenged us all in ways beyond what we could have imagined. For people with existing mental health conditions, many are experiencing greater depths of social isolation than before. Gill Milburn, CEO for Martineau Gardens said: “For some volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture project, gardening together, week in, week out can be a lifeline that gives purpose to one’s life and provides the support they need to stay healthy.” When lockdown began, the future of the project was challenged as government guidelines meant that the volunteers were unable to attend the gardens for five weeks. Seven months later, we are still weathering the storm but as reported previously, we received funding from the Heart of England Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Resilience Fund enabling the therapeutic horticulture project to continue. This has been further strengthened by a grant award from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund. Some of our more vulnerable volunteers have not yet been able to return and so we stay in touch with them to keep them connected with the Gardens.
Congratulations are in order, for all our volunteers. Once again, for the eleventh consecutive year, Martineau Gardens has been awarded a Community Green Flag Award.
The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world.
Martineau Gardens is one of more than 2,000 sites across the country to collect the award for 2020.
Tim Bruton, Trustee for Martineau Gardens, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award for the eleventh year running. 2020 has been a year of challenges for us all. Lockdown restrictions at the start of the gardening year made the future uncertain – but once restrictions eased, we were overwhelmed with the support of our volunteers who have worked hard ever since then to care for this precious green community space. This award is a tribute to their dedication and hard work.”
Commenting on Martineau Gardens’ success, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.”
Thanks to the grants from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Heart of England Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Resilience Fund, Martineau Gardens has been able to restart the Therapeutic Horticulture project which supports people from across Birmingham, in managing their mental health to improve wellbeing through the practice of gardening. Referred to as ‘volunteers’, many of the participants are vulnerable, social isolated and living with long-term mental health issues.
When lockdown began, government guidelines meant that the volunteers were unable to attend the gardens. For many, their regular visits to the gardens had become a ‘lifeline’ which provided the mental support they needed to keep healthy. The funding has meant that protective equipment has been bought and additional Therapeutic Horticulture staff have been employed to ensure volunteers are gardening safely in socially distanced pairs.
October is an ideal month for fungi forays: a chance to walk around your local green wooded space, looking for mushrooms and toadstools- on the forest floor or on trees. Here at Martineau Gardens, our volunteer wildlife recorders, Andrew and Brian, have been identifying the different species of fungi at Martineau Gardens for nearly 20 years. Nearly 50 species have been identified since records began – here’s a selection of old and new sightings all seen at the Gardens.
Good for wellbeing
The majority of fungi are beneficial to the environment, returning dead material to the soil in a form in which it can be reused and helping plants absorb water and nutrients not to mention the joy they can bring on an afternoon autumnal walk. Here’s Ali McKernan (The FUNgi Guy) with five reasons why fungi forays are good for wellbeing.
There are lots of resources online to help you identify the fungus you find – this downloadable identification chart from the British Mycological Society will get you off to a good start.
Note: whilst the majority of fungi are not harmful, some species are extremely poisonous. Never eat any fungi you find unless you are 100% certain about their identity. Enjoy their fleeting beauty in situ where you find them and share your photos on social media #MartineauFungiForays
The Covid-19 crisis has challenged us all in ways beyond what we could have imagined – and for people with existing mental health conditions, many are experiencing greater depths of social isolation than before.
This Saturday 10 October 2020 is #WorldMentalHealthDay – an opportunity for us all to check in on our own mental health. At Martineau Gardens we support people with mental health issues through therapeutic horticulture.
Gill Milburn, CEO for Martineau Gardens said: “For some volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture project, gardening together, week in, week out can be a lifeline that gives purpose to one’s life and provides the mental support they needed to keep healthy.”
But when lockdown began, the future of the project was challenged, government guidelines meant that the volunteers were unable to attend the gardens. The temporary closure of our gates meant we also lost a vital income stream that events and public visits generated.
Our thanks to
Seven months later, we are still weathering the storm but are able to report that the therapeutic horticulture project has been able to continue. We are grateful to have been awarded significant grants from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Heart of England Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Resilience Fund. The funding has meant that protective equipment has been bought and additional therapeutic horticulture staff have been employed to ensure volunteers are gardening safely in socially distanced pairs.
We are also appreciative of the long-term support of our corporate partners:
If you’re going through a tough time, there is 24 hour help available, from the Samaritans:
The Samaritans provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
We’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded £5k in the Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures – whilst we didn’t win the top prize, we are overwhelmed with all the support shown by you, our supporters, regularly voting on-line for Martineau Gardens and sharing the initiative with friends and colleagues.
With our new Persimmon windfall, we plan to redevelop the play area, updating and repairing the Pirate Shipwreck area to enhance the natural play experience. We’ll restore the popular Wheelhouse, improve the sandpit and furnish with eco-friendly play equipment – the refurbishment will be in keeping with our commitment to consider the environment and wildlife in all we do. The winter months are an ideal time to begin this work.
However, this is only the start of the redevelopment. The grassed surface area of the play area will always be problematic – bare and bald in summer and muddy and frequently awash in winter. There is a seam of clay and rubble below the surface, left over from the days when this was the recreation area for the trainee teachers attending the Martineau Teaching Centre, (see Our History: the current play area housed a tennis court and our pavilion was its sports pavilion). To ensure our redevelopment is sustainable, we need more funds to invest in proper drainage.
Share your views
You can help us with our plans by filling out our survey on-line here: http://bit.ly/2Q7MbQT
Connecting Birmingham children and nature … our future
The pandemic has reduced many aspects of our lives – here at Martineau Gardens we’re striving to help children reconnect to the natural world. Over lockdown and the subsequent months, we’ve been delivering on-line events and activities to help families get close to the nature on their doorstep, as part of their daily exercise. As we look with hope to the future, we are gradually returning visitor to the Gardens after our temporary closure (see Mondays at Martineau), and with the reopening of schools we’re looking forward to welcoming school visits back.
Education at Martineau Gardens
Environmental education has always been important at Martineau Gardens. Hundreds of school children have made visits to Martineau Gardens – our education officer delivers taught sessions which encourage children to explore diverse habitats and hunt for invertebrates; learn about the natural world and wildlife; discover where food comes from (and how good it tastes) in the vegetable plots and orchard; understand the important role of bees and butterflies in pollination and generally have fun while learning. Primary school children on educational visits have enjoyed playing in our shipwreck play area during their lunch break.
Martineau Gardens is a safe and an inclusive space that offers play without cost, within an area of extreme economic disparity. We all know you’re never too young to benefit from time spent outside – our play area at Martineau Gardens has been a well-used, much loved area providing opportunity for children to engage their imagination and improve their wellbeing at the same time. Using the natural landscape and features of the Gardens in play, whether it’s hide and seek, sandpit constructions, picnics or pirate fun – families connect with nature and each other. Our family activities during the school holidays feature environmental play and crafts, introducing them to the wonder of outdoor adventure. We look forward to the time when we can welcome back our family visitors.
About the prize
Persimmon Homes, with the support of Team GB, gave away over £1 million in 2020 to help projects for young people aged under 18 across England, Wales and Scotland. Martineau Gardens was one of the 87 finalists to win £5,000 – thank you to everyone who voted for us.
Part of our work in looking after the wildlife Martineau Gardens is to record what species visit this urban oasis. Wildlife Volunteers Andrew Curran and Brian Perry are responsible for most of our wildlife records and for many years they have carried out weekly moth trappings. They were delighted to report recently, that the 400th moth species to visit Martineau Gardens has now been recorded – it’s quite breathtaking as Andrew Curran’s image below, shows: the Ruby Tiger Moth.
Our moth trap is a light-box contained within wood – it’s put out in the evening, under the Pavilion canopy – the light attracts the moths and some fly in. The box is filled with cardboard egg boxes providing dark nooks and crannies where moths can hide. The moths settle. The next morning, our wildlife surveyors inspect the egg trays, record what has been found and the moths are then released unharmed. Thanks to their diligence, the Gardens now have an impressive list of different moths species identified.
Our wildlife pond is home to a wide variety of life from beetles and pondsnails, to dragonflies and damselflies. Amphibians that are regulalry seen include frogs, toads and smooth newts. Once a year, our wildlife volunteers ‘weed the pond’, removing all the excess vegetation that has grown up. Water lily, yellow iris, water mint and greater spearwort (a large buttercup) are thinned out. Pictured here, Brian and Andrew at work – the vegetation gets left beside the pond to let any aquatic insects return.
One of our staff, Miranda Kingston was recently interviewed for national magazine, ‘Woman’s Weekly’.
Pictured here – is the feature which includes interviews with women at two other community gardens.
In the interview, Miranda gives an insight into her role as one of our Therapeutic Horticulturalists. She describes Martineau Gardens as ‘a safe place where [the volunteers] can socialise, or escape the harsh realities of life for a while’,sees herself as a facilitator developing life skills as well as gardening skills.
The interview occurred back in Spring – in the early stages of lockdown and whilst Martineau Gardens continues to be temporarily closed to the public, the therapeutic horticulture project has, since then, been able to restart. Find out more about the Therapeutic Horiculture project during the pandemic here.
Connecting Birmingham children and nature … our future
The pandemic has reduced many aspects of our lives, at Martineau Gardens we want to help children reconnect to the natural world. Help Martineau Gardens win £100,000 to bring environmental education into the lives of Birmingham’s children.
Martineau Gardens are finalists on the Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures shortlist to win a share of £1million pot supporting under-18s nationwide.
We need your online vote to win.
Please vote by clicking here:
You will be redirected to https://www.persimmonhomes.com/building-futures/finalists . Scroll down through the other finalists to find the Martineau Gardens’ voting button which looks like this:
You can help us further by:
- Voting daily – yes – really! Vote everyday until 18 September 2020 (It’s possible to vote multiple times each day – please bookmark the voting page and vote as often as you can, at home, at work or by mobile to help boost our vote.)
- Share this voting link with friends, family and colleagues: https://www.persimmonhomes.com/building-futures/finalists by email or social media
Education at Martineau Gardens
Environmental education has always been important at Martineau Gardens. Encouraging children to explore diverse habitats and hunt for invertebrates; learn about the natural world and wildlife; discover where food comes from (and how good it tastes) in the vegetable plots and orchard; understand the important role of bees and butterflies in pollination and generally have fun while learning. If we are fortunate to win one of the top prizes we will build a dedicated Environmental Education Classroom and redevelop the play area to enhance the natural play experience.
Tim Bruton representing Martineau Gardens said: “It is a huge achievement to have been selected as a regional finalist, but now we really need people to get behind us and get voting so that we are in the strongest possible position to earn one of the top three cash awards on the night.
We have an excellent Environmental Education programme and thousands of family visits each year. If we are fortunate enough to win the public vote we will be able to build a dedicated classroom and improve the children’s play area to enhance the natural play value.”
Visit the new area on our website: Nature Activities for families
About the prize
Persimmon Homes West Midlands is backing Martineau Gardens to be a prize winner in October, when cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those winning the most online votes.
Building Futures is being delivered through the Persimmon Charitable Foundation. Through the scheme, a total of 128 grants of £1,000 have been awarded to groups supporting sport, education & arts and health across Persimmon’s 31 regional businesses and its head office.
Persimmon Homes is an official partner of Team GB and the Persimmon Charitable Commission enlisted the help of athletes Jason Kenny and Laviai Nielsen to help determine the three regional finalists for each business division.
One initiative from each category will go on to win £100,000 each through a national award scheme to be decided by a public vote.
As well as the £100,000 first prize, there will be a £50,000 second prize and a £20,000 third prize in each sector, while a further 87 shortlisted projects will each receive £5,000.
Online voting opened on 27 July and will close at midnight on 18 September 2020.