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Age UK Islington Awarded "Gold" in London in Bloom

Published on 03 October 2019 12:02 PM

London In Bloom Awards Winners Age UK Islington

The benefits of spending time outdoors are well documented, and increasingly attracting more attention in these times.  A recent article in The Independent states that “spending two hours per week outdoors may be the answer to a longer, healthier life.” 

This is exactly what the Age UK Islington’s Bloomin’ Gardeners do. Their regular weekly Get Together meets for two hours every Wednesday afternoon, and finally thanks to lots of hard work on the part of the volunteers, and Age UK Islington’s, Arts & Partnerships Co-ordinator, Andrea Sinclair, their efforts have struck GOLD…and SILVER the September London in Bloom awards, for the Community Gardens category. And they were also presented with a GOLD award from the Islington in Bloom awards too, at the ceremony in Arts Pavillion, Mile End Park.

London in Bloom brings together sponsors, partners and associations with the “aims of increasing community involvement, caring for our environment, and maintaining our precious Green Space”. The London in Bloom campaign is the largest horticultural campaign in London and hundreds of participating communities make lasting improvements to their local environment for the benefit of those that live, work and visit there.  The awards focus on three main areas: horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.

The Bloomin’ Gardeners meet in a corner of Caledonian Park – near the newly renovated Caledonian Clock Tower and Heritage Centre, and have responsibility for two plots in the park, and the garden around the Age UK Islington Drovers Activity Centre.

Age UK Islington’s, Andrea Sinclair, runs the ever-expanding group of keen volunteers. Together with input from master gardener, Anita Gracie, from Octopus Community Network, Andrea is the instigator of the thoughtful planting to encourage biodiversity and orchestrator of interwoven art projects to complement and accentuate the work of the group.  She brings in help where needed from corporate groups, such as Santander, River Partnership, Okta, Hymans Robertson, and Voluntary Community Sector partner Octopus Communities Network and also works closely with Islington Parks.  They have contributed great staff support for events and workdays and also wonderful compost.  It’s a truly team effort.

“I am absolutely delighted on behalf of all the Bloomin’ Gardeners that we’ve won these London in Bloom awards. The regular gardeners have worked so hard to improve our gardens – with planting but also in creating some lovely insect houses and bird boxes to encourage wildlife.  It was also particularly hard to maintain this summer when it was so dry and everything needed regular watering,” says Andrea Sinclair, Age UK Islington, Arts & Partnership Co-ordinator

The group is very inclusive and always open to people wanting to join. It’s a great way to start to spend time outdoors and to start reaping the benefits of being outdoors and keeping active.  The Bloomin’ Gardeners is one of Age UK Islington’s regular Get Togethers: social activities that take place in a range of locations and partner venues across the borough, appealing to a variety of interests from art and music making, to exploring architecture in Islington to bingo and chair based exercise sessions. 

“Its creative, its sociable, it’s exercise without thinking that you’re exercising and good for the mind.  I’d never done gardening before joining the group and I wouldn’t miss my weekly session”, says Diane Armstrong, Bloomin’ Gardener Volunteer.  “I’m still smiling”, following the presentation of the awards last week, “it’s absolutely wonderful that the efforts of the group were recognised.”

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