• Date awarded: June 2021
  • Awarded value: £10,765
  • Fund: NHS Charities Together Community Partnership Grants Programme
  • Location: St Margaret's Church, Glenrothes
Local residents enjoying the new community garden at St Margaret's Church, Glenrothes, funded by Fife Health Charity via NHS Charities Together Partnership Grants Programme.

Fife Health Charity funding via NHS Charities Together Community Partnership Grants Programme supported the creation of a community garden at St Margaret’s Church in Glenrothes, as a response to the isolation and vulnerability of local people during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. The transformation of the large garden space has been designed to promote mental and physical wellbeing and enable people of all ages to access and enjoy.

Perhaps one of the most heartwarming acts during the COVID-19 pandemic was the sight of Captain Sir Tom Moore in the run up to his 100th birthday in 2020, raising money for NHS Charities Together by walking 100 lengths of his garden. Inspired by Captain Tom, St Margaret’s Church in Glenrothes launched a project to transform their large and underused garden into a space for the benefit of local people.

The focus of the transformation was to create a community garden which would promote mental and physical wellbeing for people of all ages to enjoy, especially those who are suffering the effects of long-term isolation as a result of COVID-19.  The project team felt that from the early days of the pandemic awareness had been growing of the benefits that outdoor spaces bring to mental and physical wellbeing, however not everyone within the local community had easy access to a garden. 

Recognising that St Margaret’s garden space provided the ideal location for creating a therapeutic horticulture project, the team’s ambitious plans took shape, including creating community allotments, a sensory garden with a seating area, an outdoor wooden summerhouse for sheltered seating and a patioed area with benches, shed and a polytunnel.  In addition to making the new garden available to the existing groups that St Margaret runs for families, pre and primary school children and the elderly, the team was keen to set up partnerships with local agencies such as the Fife Employment Access Trust.

The Difference Our Funding is Making

The support of Fife Health Charity for the St Margaret’s Church garden project has helped to create a dynamic, multi-purpose outdoor space that can be used in a variety of ways throughout the year for the benefit of all members of the local community. Regular groups accessing the garden and making use of the transformed outdoor space include the church’s Toddler Group, Holiday Club and Monday Club, while the Gardening Group’s volunteers play a crucial role in helping to shape the creation of new areas, look after the plants and keep the grass trim. 

In terms of St Margaret Church’s initial aim of improving mental and physical wellbeing and reducing social isolation, the transformation of the garden has already met the brief. Across the various user groups increased physical activity, improved self-confidence and self-esteem, better connection to others and less feelings of being alone have all be reported, while parents and carers have felt better informed about support and activities and also felt an increased ability to cope with challenges.

Since receiving funding, the project team has continued to landscape, plant areas of the garden and introduce new features and amenities, including a willow shelter and benches. Like the garden itself, the project team’s work will continue to grow and flourish in the coming months and years ahead, ensuring it remains a welcoming and accessible community resource.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown, we were very aware and concerned about the isolation felt by many in our community - children, young parents, the elderly, those who were shielding and many others. Our plan of transforming our large garden space into a community garden to help make a difference to the quality of life to those in our local area has become a reality, helped by a grant from NHS Charities Together and Fife Health Charity.”

Sheila Filsell, Community Garden Project Coordinator, St Margaret’s Church, Glenrothes.