Children and churches have helped a West London community garden spring back into life after the former Southall wasteland was attacked by raiders.
Conservation charity A Rocha UK suffered more than £1,000 worth of loss and damage after thieves broke into their Wolf Fields site in Norwood Green, just before the Easter holiday season. But the group has since held children’s activities and a sunrise service there.
Nearly 50 people from five local churches attended the Easter Sunday sunrise service – despite an early 5am start in the dark and the rain. Three A Rocha UK volunteers helped manage the event, which was led by Rev Jeff Pyne from St Mary’s Church. Worship was led by Rev Dawn Jewson from St George’s Church.
On a separate occasion, more than 20 five to 11-year-olds descended on the three-acre park for one of A Rocha UK’s Easter Specials. They learned of plans for developing Wolf Fields – while also enjoying seasonal games and crafts led by Education Officer David Melville and his team.
Such popular, positive events were in stark contrast to the shock experienced by A Rocha UK workers who had found wrenched padlocks and valuable items missing from Wolf Fields on St Patrick’s Day. But instead of condemning those who took essential equipment, they’ve been encouraging thieves to come forward and help.
The theft had been discovered by Communities Officer Kailean Khongsai (right) when he turned up for his shift that morning. "I went to check the site – and found padlocks broken," he said. "There must’ve been at least two or three people involved, because some items were big and heavy. The intruders also trampled on the allotment."
While the rest of London had been preparing to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, thieves hauled away a heavy-duty lawn mower, strimmer and four new pairs of safety boots. Formerly used for dumping rubbish, drug-related activities and alcohol abuse, the land is being turned into a community garden by A Rocha UK with local volunteers.
Reflecting on that challenging time just before the holiday period, Conservation Director Andy Lester said the charity had been ‘deeply saddened’ by the raid. "A small group of people decided to take equipment which is there for the benefit of everyone," he said.
"However, we recognise we’re working at the heart of a community that’s burdened by many challenges. As a Christian charity, we‘d like to reach out to those who’ve stolen from and vandalised the site – and offer both forgiveness and the opportunity to work with us to make this a better place."
Wolf Fields’ transformation had previously been boosted with new footpaths and information boards. Work will eventually turn the site into a multi-purpose wildlife area with an orchard, sensory garden, organic food growing, bee keeping, wildflower meadow, small wooded area, new paths and programme of events.
Photos: Top: children enjoying holiday fun at Wolf Fields (Photo: Harpreet Castleton)
Below: Communities Officer Kailean Khongsai checking the new locks at Wolf Fields (Photo: Becky Vickers)
To read or search stories in our other categories please choose from the following:-
Norwich: Prof talk on God and science
As our scientific knowledge of the universe expands, is there any space left for God? Professor David Wilkinson argues that there is at Norwich Cathedral on May 20 ...
Bath: mystery donor's £1.5m abbey gift
Bath Abbey has received a donation of £1.5m from an anonymous individual towards its £19.3m Footprint project ...
Champion's visit rewards school's gear shift on cycling
Champion cyclist Danny Butler visited a Church of England primary school in County Durham this week as a reward for its work encouraging children to cycle to school ...
Sunderland: colliery heritage inspires creative Community Passion
Community groups in part of Sunderland were encouraged to turn to a spot of retail therapy to commemorate their area’s mining heritage on Good Friday ...
Bristol: making a big noise by serving those in need
Every May bank holiday weekend, something extraordinary happens in Bristol ...
Grub up – church/school combo gets pupils chomping
Children from one of Wales’ most deprived areas are getting free hot meals after school – thanks to a partnership between the local church and school ...
Oldham: Street Angel saves man's life
A man knocked down by a taxi and left for dead in Oldham town centre has an angel to thank for saving his life ...
D-Day veteran awarded highest honour by French government
A Hampshire churchgoer who stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day will receive the Legion d'Honneur in a ceremony next week ...
Yorkshire: youth camps find permanent base
After nearly three years of running camps and praying for a permanent home, Yorkshire Camps has announced it is moving to Netherside Hall, near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales ...
Cardiff social enterprise supports Fairtrade Fortnight
It is 20 years since the first Fairtrade Fortnight was celebrated, and Fair Do's Siopa Teg in Cardiff has been involved in some way for the past 17 of them!