Increasing Community Cohesion Why Allotments in Dennistoun?
Firpark allotment group was primarily established to create a food growing facility that encourages greater amalgamation of and discussion between individuals in a neighbourhood, to create stronger community spirit and have positive social, democratic and user well-being impacts. Intrinsically, the scheme has the motivation to decrease segregation between users of the BUPA care home adjacent to the site and the more able bodied members of the neighbourhood by providing an accessible and shared resource that all can comfortably and happily use. The care home in question; Golfhill, Dennistoun, is home to a group of individuals who would hugely benefit from and enjoy the community inclusion benefits a shared community allotment facility would result in. The home at present unfortunately largely fails to integrate itself with members of the surrounding community both due to the sites heavy enclosure for reasons of security and safety and due to societies flawed perceptions of those living in the home as people with little to contribute to the fabric of humanity. Whilst those living in the care home possess varying degrees of sociability and physical capacity, meaning they inevitably contribute less than they use to, the intrinsic drive and ability is undoubtedly there to want to keep contributing and engaging with society and to live as socially and mentally as enriching lives as possible whilst at the home. From my own personal research, I gathered occupants of care homes have a tendency to cling to staff at the home for more enriching conversations, as those they are living amongst often possess communication problems, be they caused by minor conditions such as poor hearing or extreme symptoms of advanced Alzheimer’s. The allotment facility if constructed would be situated on a currently dis-used residential gap site, in close proximity to the home, as well as being within the heart of Dennistoun’s residential community, putting those in the home in touch with people from the wider community. Tending to the allotments or taking in part in maintenance activities, to simply watching the gardening take place, will most likely benefit the mental and physical well-beings of the allotment user; evoking feelings of satisfaction and achievement. Furthermore, the facility may annul some of the negative impacts institutionalization may have on the individuals who live in the care home, such as the erosion of self-worth and confidence. Allotment participation may boost confidence and self-esteem instead, derived through personal contributions to the project. Involvement may also decrease feelings of isolation and detachment from wider society born from institutionalization. Additionally, the potential health benefits to the older users is significant; “a growing body of evidence suggests that greater social engagement is associated with significantly lower risks for cognitive decline and dementia in older adults” (Seeman, Journal of Gerontology, 1, 2010). Therefore users of the allotments may be likely to live longer, healthier lives. Moreover the allotments have positive sustainability impacts; encouraging users to grow and produce their own food instead of buying it. There are also ideas in the pipeline to donate excess fruit and veg grown to local food banks; with 18% of the people in the UK facing food poverty nowadays (Telegraph, June 2013) the resource could be precious to many families in Dennistoun facing food hunger. Glasgow also has a high rate of homelessness and so possible links could also be formed with certain disadvantaged members of local homeless shelters to participate in the food growing scheme, to grow food for their shelter or to sell the food to make money. The group, established by myself in July consists of members from the care home, Firpark Court - a new build residential housing development just off Alexandra Parade, the surrounding tenements and the WASPS art facility. The hope is to build sense of community and introduce these currently segregated individual communities to eachother, with the hope that this will improve all the lives of all involved while adding a meaningful facility to Dennistoun that will boost health and hopefully contribute to community cohesion.
Gap Site Vision
Costs Raised Beds, made with recycled oak railway sleepers 196 sleepers @ £13.75 each £2695 Old School
Topsoil 96 bag @ £35 per bag
Defensive Boundary Planting Holly 20 @ £12.99 each £259.80 Giant Rhubard 10 @ £7.95 each
New Circus Drive
Firehorn 40 @ £1.70 each
Ter rac e
£407.30 Contingency Fund £2000