Methodist church garden takes Allchurches' honour for giving community wellbeing a boost

03 OCT 2018

Allchurches Trust visited an inspirational church garden project in the North West this week to present them with an award in recognition of their community outreach.

The garden at Wharton and Cleggs Lane Church in Salford has won the Allchurches Trust Community Nurture Award in the Green Health Awards 2018. The award focuses on the gardens that get local people involved and boost the community’s spiritual, mental and physical health.

Wharton and Cleggs Lane Church began developing gardens on land at the rear of the Methodist church in Salford 10 years ago. Sited in one of the most deprived areas of the country, the project involves community allotments, a small orchard, nature walk and two greenhouses.

The church works closely with the local health improvement team, who refer people to the project, and many of the volunteers have additional needs. It also receives referrals from Prescott House – an NHS facility supporting people with mental health issues.

Kathleen Loughlin, Chaplain of Prescott Community Mental Health Team - part of Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, spoke glowingly about the support that the project had offered to one of their clients. She said: "To be seen non-judgementally as someone valuable enough to make a special effort for and to ask for his help as well; it's a rare experience for him and so many others in this community. Staff at Prescott are bowled over by how positive and healing his experiences at Cleggs Lane have been."

The local primary school also uses the nature trail at Wharton and Cleggs Lane, while spare produce from the garden goes to local Christian homeless charity – Mustard Tree, who Allchurches Trust supported with a £50,000 grant in June 2016 – and the church’s community café.

While the other winners of the Green Health Awards 2018 were presented with their prizes by Rt Rev James Newcome, the Church of England’s lead bishop for health and social care, at the Green Health Live Conference at Lambeth Palace, Wharton and Cleggs Lane were not able to attend. James Laing, Director of Grants and Relationships at Allchurches Trust, decided, therefore, to drop into their plot to see first-hand the great work they are doing and hand over their prize.

James said: “From the Garden of Eden onwards, God’s people have found spiritual, physical and mental health intertwined with a healthy environment. We support a wide range of ‘green’ projects run by churches aimed at boosting health and happiness, from sensory outdoor spaces for people with dementia to prayer gardens at primary schools.

"We’re thrilled that the Allchurches Trust Community Nurture Award has been won by Wharton and Cleggs Lane Church and Community Centre, especially as funding from both Allchurches Trust and through the Methodist Insurance Fund is supporting their dream of a new building. It’s wonderful to see them thriving and growing their reach.

"This gardening project is enabling both the church and its community to flourish, boosting the physical and mental health of volunteers and visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It is an innovative initiative delivering real impact in one of the most deprived areas of the UK and could give so many other churches a footprint to follow.”

Wharton and Cleggs Lane Church and Community Centre received a £10,700 grant from Allchurches Trust and a £50,000 grant from the Methodist Insurance Fund in 2017 as part of a £850,000 project to build a new church and community centre to meet the growing needs of the local area, including a café, foodbank, community workshop and gardening project.

As well as sponsoring The Community Nurture Award at Green Health Live, Allchurches Trust has provided funding for ongoing resources and support that will enable all churches to benefit from expert advice and learn from others who have run successful green health projects.

Methodist church garden 1 [image]

All photographs courtesy of Nigel Taggart

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