Woodcraft Reaching Out

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

 Woodcraft Reaching Out

Southwark Woodcraft run a combined Elfin and Pioneer inner city group on the Cossall Estate in South East London. We meet on Monday nights at Cossall Tenants Hall, where children play and learn and have fun. Many children come on their own, without their parents; some bring £1 subs and many do not. Some of the children are feisty and independent, some love circles and structure and some find them difficult.


We applied for a grant for the estate. We called it ‘Young and old together’ and we set about bringing the two age groups together around food and plants. We found older people who were experienced in gardening – in England or Jamaica or Cyprus - who worked with us to buy and plant and look after edible plants. We watched our plants grow and then harvested them together. Lettuces were popular, as were herbs and small trees. The children watered the plants and themselves! The older people cooked what we grew. We had some celebrations – music and food and fun with the hose pipe full on - all through the year.



What did we learn? That it is hard work reaching out to communities. Hard work applying for grants. Hard work buying plants and carrying them and digging compacted earth. Hard work getting children with free spirits to sit and listen. But also that it is fantastic! Small conversations are started over sharing food and stories. The next time you see your neighbour, you say ‘hello’ and ask them how the spinach tasted. The community start to talk more and everyone has a brilliant time.


Sam Hills, Southwark Woodcraft