Local businesses collaborate to restore gardens for The Portman Early Childhood Centre
30 March 2015
On Friday 20 March, businesses and volunteers from around Baker Street and Marylebone joined forces to restore the gardens at The Portman Early Childhood Centre at Lisson Grove, NW8.
Over 30 people from businesses, including London & Regional Properties, The Portman Estate and Double Tree by Hilton Marble Arch, came together to restore the gardens, which had become run down and in need of work. This included dredging and cleaning the water feature, landscaping the flower beds – including planting circa 200 new plants, replacing and repainting worn timber and creating an allotment space to allow children and their parents to grow vegetables, facilitating parental bonding time but also educating about food and food hygiene. As well as those which volunteered their time, some businesses donated substantial funds towards the project.
The Portman Early Childhood Centre, situated within the Church Street Ward – which has been ranked as the sixth most deprived in the country* – is a community centre that supports circa 90 children (aged 2-4 years) and their families, to provide education and play as well as a broader level of family services including parenting support, learning and where needed, victim support. The centre has two roof gardens which provide the only outdoor play space that many of its children and families have easy access to.
We coordinated the project as part of our Smarter Giving initiative where we enable our members to support local causes, to ensure that the gardens were ready for children to use in the spring. This entailed fundraising £4000 to buy materials for the project (plants, paint, wood and decking, pump and materials for the water feature), costs for ongoing maintenance and arranging a volunteering day for the work to take place.
Joanna White, Head Teacher and Manager of The Portman Early Childhood Centre, said: “We are incredibly honoured and grateful to have received such a large level of support from local businesses and volunteers, which has secured the future of the gardens, allowing them to be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. Our thanks go to the Baker Street Quarter Partnership for facilitating this project and the local businesses who have supported us. Without this kind of support we would not be able to carry on providing the services that we do.”
Chris Longman, General Manager of London & Regional properties, which co-led the project and provided expert help on the day from its network of contractors, said: “I was delighted and amazed to see how much time and resources were provided, both on the day itself and in the background during the fundraising period. This is a key example of how local businesses can help support the community for the better and we hope that the children enjoy using the new facilities. It was also a real treat to be fed such a wonderful array of food provided by a selection of the parents from the Centre.”
*Income Deprivation Affecting Children index