Growing connections in the Holme Valley, when it matters more than ever

Growing connections in the Holme Valley, when it matters more than ever

Vegetables growing in a raised planter

The Holme Valley Sharing Memories Group in Holmfirth have run a successful Growing Great Places crowdfunding campaign to bring people together at a time when social contact has never been so important.

Sharing Memories are a unique arts and wellbeing group who aim to bring people together, to share their memories with each other and with the wider community.  They use art and creative activities to improve people’s wellbeing and reduce loneliness for older people and others who live in the rural Holme Valley.

Decorated plant pot

Kirklees Council and our partners at Spacehive have supported the group to crowdfund for their new Pots of Fun project, through our Growing Great Places programme. As soon as it’s safe, group members will now be able to take part in a 12 week project preparing and planting up raised beds in the Holmfirth Junior & Infant school allotment and creating colourful pots for local venues.

We spoke to Viv Jebson, Project Manager, about the Pots of Fun project, what it means to people in the Holme Valley and how the group have been keeping in touch during lockdown.

“The Pots of Fun project will give us the opportunity to work with local schools and day care centres for people who have learning difficulties. Our members and participants can then talk and learn together. Our members will be able to share their knowledge and interact with the young people at the school allotment. Children will learn how to grow plants, flowers and vegetables. We hope the investment in older people now and the interaction with younger people will create fond memories and bring people together, and that the raised beds will be used by generations of children to come.

“We’d normally run a project like Pots of Fun from April to July, but for obvious reasons we couldn’t. As much as the intergenerational work allows younger people to learn what life might have been like for people growing up after the war, about poverty, school and work and all the differences between then and now, there is a really big benefit to our members as well.

“Some members of our group live on their own and without being involved in these projects would otherwise not get to see anyone. Through various projects at Sharing Memories, of which Pots of Fun will be another great example, we can reduce social isolation, build confidence and develop a sense of self-worth in our participants.”

The coronavirus lockdown might have held the project up for a while, but it hasn’t stopped Viv and the artists making sure that people don’t become isolated.

Artwork from a member of the Sharing Memories group
“Homework” from a member of the Sharing Memories group

“To support our projects, we employ freelance artists to help develop our members’ skills. That means they only get paid when projects are running. But together over the last few months we’ve worked together to make sure everyone is okay. We’ll take it in turns to phone members each week, have a conversation and make sure they’re okay. And so that our members have something to do, we’ve delivered seed boxes to them and soil so people can growing things themselves. We’ve also provided drawing materials so that people can create pictures of their plants as they grow. It’s just a little something to help keep people occupied and give something to focus on.”

Sharing Memories want to keep attracting funding, so they can continue to run valuable local projects. Viv told us that they have aspirations to do even more.

“We see the value in running projects like Pots of Fun, because we see the reward in what the community gets back. If we can support more people and get more volunteers in place, the reward for the community improves and makes our local place even better.”

Pots of Fun received £10,382 from 35 backers, including support from Growing Great Places, local citizens, the One Community Longley Farm Fund, ward councillors and local organisations. The group are extremely grateful for all the pledges. Viv was particularly pleased to be approached by the Holme Valley councillors, who got the project a long way towards their target.

Find out more

Holme Valley Pots of Fun project

Growing Great Places – civic crowdfunding

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