The green space in front of  Haywood Adventure Playground was severely degraded and unloved. It was a dark gloomy dump but with help from Octopus Communities and funding from the Mayor of London ‘Greener City Fund’ it has transformed the space. There were many problems before the transformation such as fly-tipping, antisocial behavior and overgrown hedges. Families had to go through the degraded park to be able to pick up their children from Hayward adventure playground. After consultation and a fund over £1500, a brand new garden was planted with the key drivers being young people and children, many of which have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

In 2019 students from Beacon High with young people from Haywood came for regular sessions and workshops on the design and build on the new space. From then on in March 2019 a community orchard had been planted with new hedgerows containing 75 native English hedgerow species: blackthorn, hawthorn, elder and guelder rose to name a few. Recently a further 135 have been planted. Hedgerows provide a habitat for wildlife. Wildflowers and a grass meadow have also been sown. Last month 1000 bulbs had been planted. This was all happening because of the support and assistance of children. A volunteer kindly created a welcome sign using artwork from children with an explanation of the garden for locals and it now hangs on the gates greeting people into the park.

On Tuesday the 3rd of December a small event was held attended by the parents and a representative from the Islington Parks department. The children presented their presentation of  their experience working on the renovation project including what they enjoyed and had learnt. A key worker essential in the renovation, Fran Smith said it was “positive.” 

This rebuild has allowed the park to be a source of pride for the local residents and children who have taken part. The ‘Wild and Green’ project has created a space with identity for the children and young people, especially those with SEND. It has brought them together to enjoy meaningful social and physical activities through community nature gardening. This is an ongoing project as the plants and hedges have to be maintained creating and continuing friendship between the community. There is now the ability for a positive access to nature as it has been built to be accessible for all people. The building of the bug houses, log piles bird boxes, baths and feeders have provided a rich biodiversity to occur in this park. This park also provides a tranquil open green space in a densely populated urban city. This creates a relaxing atmosphere for wellbeing, a place for reflection, an access to a natural playground and community gardening activities. 

Through the planting of hedgerows, shrubs, a meadow, wildflowers, bulbs, mixed herbaceous perennial plants and wildlife infrastructure. The once-neglected park turned into an attractive well maintained woodland. The children and young people of Islington were able to take control of their green area. This is a proud example of what a community can do and the change they can make.