On Thursday 17th February 2022 Halifax Opportunities Trust featured in a supplement that was published by The Times newspaper, titled:
‘Extraordinary charities standing up to the pandemic’
The Supplement was a focus on the Barclays 100 x 100 project, of which Halifax Opportunities Trust has received funding from, to offer relief for communities impacted by COVID 19.
The Article reads:
A community garden project in Halifax plants seeds of change.
Identified as being in the top 10 per cent of the UK’s most underprivileged neighbourhoods, Park in central Halifax is densely populated and lacks green spaces. Long-term underlying health conditions are above the nationwide average and Covid-19 mortality rates have been high.
Halifax Opportunities Trust is pushing for change. One of the largest charities in Calderdale, it has been working with ethnically diverse communities for 20 years to provide employment support, children’s centres and meeting spaces, and to help to create a vibrant community.
Through a flagship project, the Outback Community Garden, the charity has focused support on tackling diabetes, obesity and Vitamin Deficiency through lifestyle changes rather than medication. The garden houses 25 vegetable beds and two poly tunnels, growing a variety of produce, which is available to purchase at affordable prices.
During lockdown, Outback grew in importance, offering outdoor activities and a way to continue face-to-face support. A beekeeping group and mental health peer support group aimed specifically at Pakistani men have both been particularly successful. A community meal service began in September 2020 – using surplus food from a supermarket supplemented by fresh produce grown in the garden, it provides hot takeaway meals for up to 60 people a week.
“It’s been a real lifesaver,” says Tess, who has been coming to the community garden for a couple of years.
“I would not have a life now without this place. It’s prevented loneliness and suicidal thoughts. I didn’t feel I had anyone to turn to. I love the people here. You can come to relax or you can get stuck into the work.”
Food-related activities include cook-and-eat sessions for families, peer support groups based around growing, cooking and eating, encouraging more volunteer gardeners and enabling more schools and nurseries to use the garden.
“The service is staffed by workers from a different arm of the trust who can then signpost other support services and identify those in need of intervention,” says Sarah Waddington, Outback manager. Funding from Barclays enables the trust to expand its work and reach more people like Tess.
“Before, I felt I was nothing,” she says, “but now I have an important role. I’ve learnt how to be myself and can laugh again. It’s given me a reason to live”