Belper tenants create award-winning gardens

The Ladywell Court residents
The Ladywell Court residents

A group of green-fingered tenants from Belper have come together to create award-winning gardens and, at the same time, bring their community closer together.

The six residents of Ladywell Court, all tenants of housing association Futures Homescape, have spent the last two years sprucing up their gardens and communal areas with Dawn Rodgers, 51, the main driving force behind the project.

Their efforts have seen them win prizes in Belper Town Council’s Belper in Bloom competition, and recognition from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Dawn said: “Before we started all this about two years ago, everybody round here more or less kept themselves to themselves and didn’t really bother with each other.

“But working on this has brought everyone who lives here together and formed a strong community where we’ve made lovely surroundings to live in.

“Most of the people who work on it are disabled, but we help each other out so all the jobs can get done one way or another. I like to make sure everyone’s involved!

“We started doing a few bits and pieces and it’s just grown over time. Now, we get organised in the colder months to get ready for spring and summer time so we can enjoy it.

“We all sit out together and have a few laughs, swap tips and think about how we can keep improving the gardens. It’s our own little corner of the world and we’ve filled it with a mass of colour.”

Remarkably, the group has been able to transform the area despite most of them living with a disability, working together to get jobs done.

Another member of the group, Jim Brierley, lives with a serious spinal injury, but says the gardens have given him a new lease of life.

He said: “I was really down, both physically and mentally. I’ve got a spinal injury that restricts me and I’d lost my wife so it was really hard.

“Doing the gardens has picked me up no end, we all enjoy doing it. We all help each other, which has brought us all together.

“We build a lot of the things for the gardens using old pallets and wood, so nothing goes to waste. We’re proud to have made where we live so nice.” National Housing Day is today and this year is all about proud tenants of social housing, celebrating their stories and experiences about where they live.

Follow National Housing Day on Twitter using the hashtag #ProudTenants.

Executive director of Futures Homescape, Paul Parkinson, said: “It’s great to see people that are working together as a community to make where they live more pleasant.

“It’s clear this group are proud of where they live and they can really enjoy it with the amazing gardens that they have created.”

The association manages more than 5,800 homes across Derbyshire as well as providing money and welfare advice.