An environmental project in the west end of Newcastle.
Robert Stewart Memorial URC is set in the middle of a multi-cultural, multi faith area of Newcastle with community cohesion issues.
A small group of people 6 years ago wanted to make the place look nicer – so they set about planting trees and flowers.
The CRCW at RSM heard about them through the ward committee and began attending their meetings. The project attracted more people who cared about their neighbourhood and eventually, with the help of a lottery grant, this turned into a community interest company called Greening Wingrove.
Congregation members from RSM were encouraged to attend and take part in events. The project focuses on saving energy, recycling, keeping the area looking tidy, holding sessions to show how to grow vegetables in the back yard or on the balcony.
It has become a community focus and holds regular events which are well attended. The church has also benefitted – its members have saved money on their electricity through community switch and the hall at the church has been insulated by Greening Wingrove to show the difference insulation can make to energy bills.
- Where did the idea come from? How did it start?
The Greening Wingrove project grew out of a small group of local people who wanted to make a difference to the aesthetics of the area. They applied for a small grant and with the help of the local council were successful in planting trees and flowers.
- What needs is it meeting?
The project ostensibly addresses environmental issues – saving energy, recycling etc., but serves a bigger purpose in bringing the community together in something they care about.
- What preparation did you do?
This was done by the local council, the WEA and members of the Greening Wingrove committee.
- What resources did you need?
The church itself only needed to provide the resource of people – people from the congregation willing to go along to meetings and help out occasionally
- Who were your partners in this project?
The local ward committee and councillors, the local WEA, and the Greening Wingrove project CIC.
- How did the congregation get on board?
The CRCW told them about the project and they were invited to attend meetings.
- What were the key steps from day 1 and how long did it take?
Key steps were looking around the community and working alongside projects that were already taking place. The church became well known for “being there” even on rainy days!
- What legislation did you have to deal with?
When Greening Wingrove asked if they could insulate the hall, we had to fill in an application form, but were given a lot of help by the GW administration staff.
- Impact on Community
- What impact has this project had on the life of the community? Apart from the neighbourhood looking nicer, thanks to the flowers and rubbish picks – there is a greater community spirit. Garden festivals and other events hosted by GW are very well attended by people from all parts of the community.
- Has this changed the relationship between the church and community?
We hope it has – the church members take part in community events and are interested in what is happening outside the church. They are enthusiastic about energy saving and recycling and are especially pleased to have had their hall refurbished.
- Impact on the church
- How does the project connect with your faith and mission?
It answers statements 4 and 10 of the vision 2020 programme. Our church is active in its community, with better links to community groups and organisers – as well as caring for its environment (integrity of creation)
- Has the life of the church been transformed because of this?
Apart from having the hall insulated by the GW project, the hall has been painted by the scouts and members of the bowls club – and the bowls club have replaced the old cookers in the kitchen. There is a feeling of renewal in everyone who uses the building – it’s as if they realise someone cares about what goes on in their church and the community is no longer “out there” – it’s “in here” too.
Contact details: Ann Honey (RSM CRCW) [email protected]