Creative Community Engagement Process
The West Silvertown Foundation initiated the BVG Community Project as part of the regeneration of the West Silvertown area consisting primarily of two main residential developments – the erstwhile modest Britannia Village and the very recent Royal Wharf with its new flats and townhouses. As is the case with a new urban development emerging alongside the existing residential cohort, a sense of general hostility around demands on shared resources, e.g., local schools and GP practice, began to emerge. The Britannia Village Garden is next to Britannia Village Green, a green space within Britannia Village. It involved the clean-up and set up of the BVG by getting the local community members from both residential developments to participate and volunteer together.
Community Engagement Goals
Recruiting volunteers for the project was challenging as “gardening is not everybody’s cup of tea.” Funding was and still remains a significant challenge, e.g., procuring essential gardening equipment like a wheelbarrow and setting up a secure shed to store gardening material. Natural challenges in the form of storms continue to be demanding as they destroy the garden, its fencing, etc.
Methods of Community Participation/Engagement
Volunteers were recruited from within the local community, primarily through creating awareness via social media and email. Together, the community built compost pits to process organic waste from raw fruit and vegetables. The community also contributed plastic boxes, tubs, and egg cartons to be used as planters. A community household provided garden equipment like a hose pipe connection, which was fundamental to the project.
BVG is a fully functional garden for the local community. A Steering Group has been established which makes decisions about how best to make use of the garden. The West Silvertown Foundation carries out activities throughout the year to keep the community engaged:
Regular activities include initiatives like
• Adult gardening classes once a week (usually for 1.5 to 2h).
• Educational projects for young adults from challenging backgrounds and children with special educational needs (SEN).
• Involving the local schools for gardening activities for school children.
Seasonal activities include initiatives like:
• Sow & Grow – children were engaged in an activity to grow daffodils ahead of Mother’s Day celebrations in the UK.
• Easter Hunt – An Easter Egg Hunt was organized as part of Easter celebrations.
• Afternoon Tea Party – a huge success, to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee.
The Britannia Village Garden is located next to Britannia Village Green which is a green space within Britannia Village in London’s Royal Docks.
Participants included residents of both Britannia Village and Royal Wharf, both of which are local developments.
The garden restoration project took place over the Spring and Summer of 2019.
Although challenging at first, the garden project brought together residents from both the old and the new developments. Volunteers included residents of all ages and backgrounds who worked together in restoring the garden. There was a shared purpose towards which they worked, reflected in the teamwork that led to the successful completion of the garden restoration. Residents from both developments continue to use the garden, which has become a welcoming shared space for the entire local community primarily via the ongoing gardening activities organized by the West Silvertown Foundation.