An oasis of green
The Faiths4Change garden at St Michael in the City church is an oasis of green in the city centre, just off Upper Pitt Street in the Chinatown area of Liverpool. I started volunteering there last summer when it first opened to the public. It’s a wonderful place to get involved in the local community and get to know people. I’ve been unemployed for two and a half years now due to mental health issues so volunteering there is helping to give me a sense of purpose. I love the feeling of working together with others to create something that everyone can enjoy.
Just being outside is great too, it really helps me feel better. I’ve learned so much from the Faiths4Change team, about crop rotation, companion planting, organic gardening and more than I ever thought I’d want to know about getting rid of bamboo!
“I find the work helps my mental health a lot, I don’t feel as anxious when I have something physical to do that I can focus on.”
Volunteering here has given me a connection with the people at the group and with the place itself, and it’s definitely good exercise! And it’s really helped me take notice of the world around me. I love seeing the way the garden changes through the seasons, the different colours and smells of the plants. I find the work helps my mental health a lot, I don’t feel as anxious when I have something physical to do that I can focus on. It helps to clear my head and I’ve felt healthier too. I’ve seen myself get stronger over the time I’ve been going there.
The community is a huge part of the garden, getting to know the people has been really important to me. I’ve met people from completely different backgrounds to a lot of my friends so it’s opened my eyes to a lot of different experiences. I love that we all share food together* each week, it’s something I’ve been massively missing since the coronavirus pandemic started and we’ve all been in lockdown.
No matter who we are, anyone can turn up and join in the lunch. There’s something hugely companionable about working alongside people and then taking a break and eating together, I love it. It’s been brilliant to see people in the local area getting more involved too, and get to know the history of the place.
We’ve heard loads of interesting stories from people who remember St Michael’s church from the past, like when it was in a temporary building after the original church was destroyed. It’s great to see how what we’re doing now connects to what people have done before us.
Faiths4change team’s incredible donations to local food bank
While the garden has been closed to the public during lockdown I’ve not been able to volunteer there. However, the Faiths4Change team have been doing incredible work reorganising the garden, to grow as much fresh food as possible to donate to the local food bank (https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/in-your-area/community-garden-overhaul-support-food-18472210). They’ve donated over £200 worth of fresh, organic greens, salad leaves and herbs since lockdown began. It’s wonderful that they’ve been able to do this but I wish I could be there to help, I’m looking forward to it opening again soon!
*Unfortunately, the activity of sharing food is to be reviewed when we reopen!
Author: Katherine Pace – St Michaels Church Gardening Volunteer
Find Your Steeple Contact: Lilly Nelson (St Luke in the city parish)