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Unloved community sites transformed in ‘greening grey Britain’ scheme

An urban food growing scheme is among the latest projects to transform community spaces (Julie Howden/RHS/PA)

Food growing at an urban sheltered housing scheme and a “sanctuary” garden for dementia sufferers are among projects transforming local spaces, the Royal Horticultural Society said.

This year, 44 local gardening groups will work with children and young people to help turn unused or unloved sites into community areas with planting and colour, as part of the RHS’s Greening Grey Britain scheme.

The programme, now in its third year, aims to turn the tide of front gardens and communal areas becoming paved over and towns and cities increasingly turning into “concrete jungles”.

The site where a sanctuary garden will be created for people with dementia (RHS/PA) Credit: The site where a sanctuary garden will be created for people with dementia (RHS/PA)

This year’s schemes include the rejuvenation of a garden in a sheltered housing community in Stratford, East London, where teenage Metropolitan Police cadets will help residents grow fresh fruit and vegetables.

A sanctuary garden will be created for people with dementia in Dunbar, East Lothian, with secondary school children at risk of permanent exclusion helped to develop their horticultural skills alongside a community gardening group.

Among the other schemes being backed by the RHS, supported by Chelsea Flower Show sponsors M&G Investments, are a corridor of colour along a busy a road in Manchester, a revamped West Yorkshire railway station and a community garden in Sunderland.

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All the schemes get help and advice from an RHS gardening expert, as well as £500 worth of plants and materials.

Andrea Van Sittart, RHS head of community outreach, said: “Our towns and cities are rapidly becoming concrete jungles, covered in paving and with little space left for plants.

“We’re helping communities fight back and show that even small pockets of green space can make a big difference to people’s lives and the environment.”

One of last year's projects with charity Young Saheliya , Glasgow, to green their ‘grey’ courtyard (RHS/Julie Howden/PA) Credit: One of last year's projects with charity Young Saheliya , Glasgow, to green their ‘grey’ courtyard (RHS/Julie Howden/PA)

Anne Richards, chief executive of M&G said: “Gardening is a wonderful, rewarding pastime for everyone, young and old – which is why we need to make sure that every community has green space for people to be able to enjoy together.

“We’re very excited about what the groups are going to be doing this summer and are looking forward to seeing the results!”

Projects are now under way with transformations due for completion by early autumn, the RHS said.