Neighborhood backyard in Bensham which provides refugees ‘a protected place’ reopens after Covid-19 closure


A neighborhood backyard which has been a lifeline to refugees has opened its gates once more for the primary time in two years.

On Friday, Might 13, the backyard volunteers had been ‘overjoyed’ to announce the official reopening of the backyard at Windmill Hills Centre in Bensham, Gateshead, after two years of restricted entry as a result of pandemic and legal injury to their polytunnel final spring.

The opening occasion featured the revealing of a ‘great’ neighborhood mosaic, by the “We Stand Collectively” venture, with individuals and artist Emma Sheridan from the native charity GemArts. They collaborated with The Comfrey Challenge, a Charitable Integrated Organisation (CIO) that primarily helps refugees and other people in search of asylum to enhance their high quality of life by nature-based, artistic and studying actions.

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Eleni Venaki, the director of the Comfrey Challenge stated: “Now greater than ever refugees and other people in search of asylum want assist for his or her well being and wellbeing, following the dire results of the pandemic and the price of residing enhance.

“It’s due to this fact nice to as soon as once more be open at full capability and have the ability to much-needed respite and a way of belonging to these fleeing battle and persecution, together with, extra just lately, folks affected by the devastating occasions in Afghanistan and Ukraine. We’re hopeful that compassion and customary sense will prevail and we’re extra decided than ever to combat for refugee rights.



A community garden has re-opened at the Windmill Hills Centre in Bensham for refugees
A neighborhood backyard has re-opened on the Windmill Hills Centre in Bensham for refugees

“The optimistic responses to our attraction exhibit the generosity and welcome of the local people to displaced folks in search of sanctuary, and we’re wanting ahead to having the ability to present as soon as once more a protected and welcoming house for refugees and other people in search of asylum within the space.

“We offer a protected, welcoming place for individuals who have fled battle and persecution to enhance their bodily and psychological wellbeing, develop new expertise, and put down roots of their new neighborhood.”

A volunteer at The Comfrey Challenge, Reza stated: “I joined Comfrey Challenge in 2016. The Comfrey Challenge for me is life. We come to affix totally different nationalities, and share cultures, experiences and languages. We’re gardening collectively, serving to the setting, sharing expertise to assist with gardening, sowing seeds, and caring for vegetation.

“This place makes me really feel comfortable. The Comfrey Challenge for me is well being, reference to neighborhood and nature, and setting. Individuals will come and I see their faces are drained after they depart right here, I see they really feel comfortable and refreshed. Gardens and nature are for all humanity.”



A community garden for refugees in Bensham, Gateshead
A neighborhood backyard for refugees in Bensham, Gateshead

One other volunteer, Milton stated: “That is my first 12 months becoming a member of the backyard. I really feel good as a result of I’m connecting with vegetation. I really like nature and I really like to satisfy folks from all different nations. That is great for me to find out about gardening. I like being a part of making the backyard stunning.”

The backyard misplaced their authentic polytunnel to vandalism and theft on two separate events in 2021. The repairs to the polytunnel had been made attainable by an ‘extremely beneficiant’ response from the neighborhood to their Serving to Arms fundraising marketing campaign, which raised over £4,500, greater than double the goal quantity set initially.

They had been ‘delighted’ to have Labour Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, lower the ribbon on their now refurbished polytunnel. He stated: “Gateshead and Gateshead Council have a proud historical past of welcoming refugees and other people in search of asylum.

“Locations just like the Comfrey Challenge are very important for our local people. It’s nice to have a facility like this within the centre of Gateshead the place folks can get collectively, and I understand how welcoming the Comfrey Challenge has been to members of the broader neighborhood, and that it’s a supply of nice delight for the refugee volunteers right here.

“The communities who come right here can combine quicker as a result of, to make use of gardening metaphors, they’ll put down roots in Gateshead and domesticate hyperlinks with the broader neighborhood. By means of gardening, volunteering, and inventive actions all of the communities discover they’ve a shared language

“The pandemic has proven that the refugee neighborhood is likely one of the most susceptible communities and it’s nice to have the Comfrey Challenge again and ready to supply its actions once more. So as we speak I am delighted to affix them in celebrating the reopening of the gardens and polytunnel, that means that the Comfrey Challenge’s great work can resume.”

To be taught extra, go to: http://www.thecomfreyproject.org.uk

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