In recent months you may have noticed large gangs of people working in the park. These are part of an initiative led by a dedicated Community Development Manager, Andy Robinson – to be distinguished from the regular ‘community payback’ team you might see around in orange hi-vis gilets.
Andy, whose previous experience included time working ‘on the ground’ for many years in Nunhead Cemetery, as well as for Kingston Borough Council, has developed good links with several charities – such as Groundwork, Timebank and Hands On London. These bodies work as intermediaries with corporate clients looking for projects for their staff to take on, as part of corporate social responsibility. Andy gives them ideas for horticultural works in Southwark parks that might appeal to volunteers.
The projects so far worked on by these groups in Dulwich Park include clearance in the American Garden, and construction of the wood chippings path that now stretches from the village copse all the way along the back of Court Lane Gardens and Court Lane. The aim is for this path – which helps prevent the path becoming waterlogged and boggy during wet times of year – to reach around the park.
Both of these projects have involved considerable days’ worth of labour that could not have been achieved within the parameters of the grounds maintenance contract run by ‘idverde’ (pronounced I D Verde – the company that took over Quadron).
Teams that have worked in Dulwich Park include staff from Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, The Copyright Licencing Authority and (coming up on 6th July) Telstra. The numbers available for these initiatives can be staggering – up to 150 volunteers. Imagine how many extra working hours that provides, at times of cost-cutting by the council. Of course, these teams do not all work exclusively in our park, but Andy is confident that there will be plenty more willing participants, on a regular basis.
Win-win, all round!