£28k award for community garden project

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SOCIAL Development Minister, Nelson McCausland has awarded £28,141 in Neighbourhood Renewal funding to Newtownabbey Borough Council.

The cash boost will allow the council to develop a community sensory garden within the Rathcoole estate.

The council is contributing £2,395 towards the project, and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has agreed to assume responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the garden.

The sensory garden, which is currently under construction, will be located at the rear of Inniscoole Day Centre and will be open to members of the public Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm from late May.

“This is good news for the people of Rathcoole. I am pleased to have supported this community space project which aims to provide a place for inclusion, celebration, reflection and renewal; it is an excellent example of statutory and community sector partnership to improve the local environment and image of communities, making them more attractive places to live and work in and also underpins the value of people and place,” Mr McCausland commented.

“This project supports my Department’s strategic objectives of community, social and physical renewal. These objectives aim to improve the quality of life for people in some of our most deprived neighbourhoods. They help to increase social inclusion, voluntary activity, contribute towards healthier lifestyles and aid community development.

“I hope to visit the garden when the works are complete and take the opportunity to talk first hand with members of the community about the benefits this Neighbourhood Renewal funding has brought.”

The sensory garden project, which aims to increase the integration of people with disabilities with the wider community and provide opportunity to support school/community intergenerational activities, is highlighted as a priority need within the Rathcoole Neighbourhood Action Plan. The garden will contain visual and sensory elements and will include seating for meditation. It will also be used as an educational tool for schools and community groups and will have a community gardening group responsible for the seasonal planting of the garden.

Mayor Victor Robinson welcomed the funding allocation, saying: “A sensory garden will provide the community with a shared space in which they can not only enjoy the outdoors but can also boost their mental and physical health. It is a great opportunity for the local community to build upon good relations with their neighbours through meeting at this sensory garden. It is a fantastic addition for the Day Centre and the individuals attending the centre can become involved and no longer feel excluded from the community.”

Anyone who would like to become involved in the gardening group, or would like further information about the community sensory garden, should contact Inniscoole Day Centre on 9085 4333 or Sara Barkley, Rathcoole Neighbourhood Renewal Co-ordinator on 9034 0197.