Catching Lives has been working in collaboration with Herne Bay in Bloom on Root To Resistance – an ambitious garden project at our day centre in Station Road East.
Clients, staff, students and volunteers have been working with Lucy Platel and Stafford Taylor from the Community Kitchen Garden at Herne Bay Memorial Park to co-create a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy.
Lucy Platel, Herne Bay in Bloom community gardener, said: “We are proud to be part of the effort to develop the Catching Lives Garden. Our aim is to inspire and empower people who are homeless to have an active voice in shaping their own environment to make it vibrant and sustainable.
“Root To Resistance is not just about planting pretty flowers; we want to make a meaningful difference. We’re not just working on the garden – we’re working on ourselves. We believe that by cultivating the earth, we cultivate our spirits, and by building community, we build our strength.”
Every Tuesday at 11am, come rain or shine, everyone who wants to take part can join a meeting in the Catching Lives garden to discuss ideas and collaborate on the project.
Since the Spring, the team have created new boundaries and paths, made new flower beds, repainted the fence and cleared foliage and rubbish. Activities have included a compost mixing workshop, a potting workshop, painting shells, restoring the bug hotel and planting new edibles, flowers and herbs including in hanging baskets. Lucy and Staf aim to provide a range of activities and share skills including general gardening and maintenance, garden design and planning, crafts and education.
Participants from Catching Lives have also visited the Abbey Physic Garden in Faversham and the Herne Bay Memorial Park garden for inspiration, with further trips planned to places including Canterbury Cathedral. Thank you to Suzanne and the team at Abbey Physic for making us so welcome and for a delicious lunch.
Our wide network of supporters have provided donations in kind, including Blean Rotary who donated 15 tonnes of compost and a generous financial gift. Sam at Rosewood Acres Farm is kindly storing the compost for us too and making it ready for use.
One Catching Lives client who is involved in Root To Resistance said: “As well as making the place look nice, the project gives something to occupy people.
“People on the street get put in boxes – that they’re either a junkie, alcoholic, or have mental health problems, but most people it’s circumstances in life and they have suffered.
“Places like Catching Lives give you hope, they give opportunities like this and during the day it gives you something to do, something to look forward to and more importantly gives self-respect because people can say I have done that; I contributed to that.”
Stafford Taylor, Herne Bay in Bloom volunteer, said: “I was homeless last year and Catching Lives supported me. I wanted to give something back.
“I have been doing community gardening with the charity Herne Bay In Bloom and believe it’s important to have green spaces as they improve mental health, there’s an engagement element in our gardening projects too, it helps people feel they are doing something useful with their time. With Catching Lives we’re also challenging the stereotypes around homeless people not being skilled. We can do something with this. It is empowerment.
“I wanted to give other people the sense of empowerment that I felt being a community volunteer in Herne Bay Community Kitchen Garden.
“We wanted to do something democratic that would allow everyone to have their voice heard and give people the power to make decisions that affect them. Some people experiencing homelessness have very limited autonomy – it’s nice to give them their power back.”
Miriam Ellis, Arts & Activities Co-ordinator, said: “It has been wonderful having Herne Bay in Bloom help us develop our garden space. They have made it a more relaxing environment, creating a space for people to spend time and help reduce any stress and anxiety they might be feeling. The project has helped foster a sense of community and belonging, and our trips to other community gardens has inspired discussion as well as an opportunity for a lovely day out.”
Root To Resistance offers opportunities for people to connect, share knowledge, and collaborate on projects, fostering a sense of community and belonging.
As a result of the collaboration, one client is now going over to Herne Bay twice a week to volunteer with Herne Bay in Bloom.
To donate to Catching Lives, please visit our Just Giving page.