Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Making London Bridge green

Victoria has been working at St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots project in London Bridge since 2014. She tells us what the project has achieved and what she’s got out of it herself

How long have you have been working with Putting Down Roots (PDR) in London Bridge?

I’ve been working at London Bridge almost from the start in various capacities: firstly as a client in spring 2014, then as sole trader, locum and since last December I’ve been working here full time.

What does the LDN Bridge project involve?

We are working with Team London Bridge, the Business Improvement District for the area. We work with them to make areas greener. Not the whole of London Bridge, the council looks after some of the public spaces. But we have about eight sites from Borough High Street leading down to Tower Bridge Road. We’re at the NCP car park opposite the Greenwood Theatre which we also maintain. That was a really interesting project with Joe Swift and Zandra Rhodes. We  have a hub on Melior Street where we do a bit of training with our clients and we’ve got a small scale allotment. Then there’s Snowfields Primary School where I teach workshops. Through these workshops we have a link to Borough Market and I grow veg with the children for the Borough Market young marketeers event..

What challenges have you faced?

The challenge is that in such a densely populated area we must deal with plant damage and litter. As a project we are looking at training up people to go and work in gardening jobs. The chances are the jobs will be with the council or in that sort of environment. So this is a perfect training ground. They learn a lot about keeping themselves safe and members of the public safe. The urban area isn’t a massive challenge. As long as we’ve got permission to green up the space, we just get to it as long as we’ve got good soil and a water supply.

What are you proudest of?

Personally I am most proud of my young marketeers. Though it’s not really in my job spec, I get a lot of enjoyment from it. The children are so enthusiastic and learn and retain so well. They’re just enthused by growing vegetables and selling. I feel like I’m bringing something to inner city children that they might not necessarily get anywhere else. A lot of them live in flats around here, they don’t have gardens or even balconies.

Regarding the project in this area, I am proudest of how we are managing to maintain green spaces in such an urban area. And doing that alongside some really fantastic people who just fell on hard times I guess. It’s wonderful when you can work alongside someone and they start to turn up earlier and earlier in the morning.They start to take ownership of specific places that they enjoy working at. That’s why I do this job.

Have you got any nice feedback from members of the public?

Oh gosh yeah, all the time. Whenever we’re out people will pass by and comment about how beautiful things are. Or they remember when it wasn’t such a green area. It’s lovely.

Read about how Victoria was honoured by the Royal Horticultural Society

We’d like to thank the teams at Network Rail and Team London Bridge for their support and dedication towards making the pop-up garden day in London Bridge on 7 August 2018 such a great success.

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