A community wellbeing project is giving local people the chance to learn and improve the environment in Middlesbrough.

The project will see Galloway Gardens, on the communal land off Rainham Close in Thorntree, Middlesbrough, brought back to life and transformed into a tranquil outdoor space.

Working with members of the local residents’ group, a number of fruit and nut trees had already been planted to create an attractive orchard.

Now, housing provider Thirteen is working with partner organisations Middlesbrough Council, Community Ventures, MVDA and You’ve Got This, over the next twelve months to give volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills such as growing and cooking fresh vegetables, with the project working towards offering horticulture training to interested volunteers.

Thirteen’s environmental specialist John Woods says, “It’s fantastic to see the community spirit on the estate. Everyone has been painting the planters which have been made from recycled materials, that would have otherwise been thrown away and we’ll be planting fruit and vegetables including parsnips, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes and strawberry plants, to provide food and an improved environment over the coming years.”

Compost heaps have been created and habitats built to attract wildlife. There are big plans for the future including an accessible sensory garden.

John adds, “We’re very grateful to the volunteers for everything they’re doing to contribute. This project brings so many benefits to the community. This is a place to meet new people, make friends and learn too. Connecting with nature is great for people’s mental health and wellbeing. The work we do to improve the environment is incredibly important and we’re very privileged to have the support of Councillor Janet Thompson and the enthusiasm from so many residents who are proud of the area and want to make it an attractive place to live.”

Councillor Janet Thompson says, “This is all about bringing a community together. They’re working together and supporting each other. I feel honoured to be working with these residents. It’s giving them confidence and skills and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

John continues, “We’re doing this because our customers told us what they wanted to improve the area they live in and everything we’re doing here is from their feedback. This project is all about giving something back to them and it’s just one of many community projects which will improve the environment, create more natural habitats for wildlife and a stronger ecosystem.”