“Everywhere the kids could have fun was closed.”

Like many parents of young children, lockdown was something of a nightmare for Kareena. Then she found Groundwork.

“It was really hard during lockdown when nothing was open. You can’t go to the park. You can’t go to trampolines. You can’t go to a soft play, everywhere the kids had fun was closed. So, they had nothing, nothing at all.”

Then Kareena saw an advert for a Groundwork community hub in Luton. The hubs are small gardens where members of the local community learn how to grow, harvest and cook with fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce grown here is also sent to local food banks and local holiday hunger services.

They were also running play sessions for young children, so Kareena took her then 1 year-old, La’myah along.

“They were really welcoming. La’myah loves being outdoors. She loves the flowers. She just took to it, so we kept coming.

“Some of the fruit and veg they picked was taken to the food bank. Every week they did a different food project. And then they also did activities like colouring activities or little craft activities. In the school holidays, my older son came as well, and they made some hanging baskets to decorate the garden. He really enjoyed it.”

Thanks to funding from Luton Rising, Groundwork have been able to add to their activities in their community gardens.  They are running additional community food growing activities in three Luton Hubs as well as running Family Learning courses.  ‘Family wild play’ sessions have started at the Memorial Park and Marsh Farm sites, with pre-school children and their parents/guardians taking part in activities themed around a popular children’s book. 

The aim of the sessions are for families to enjoy the lovely outdoor activities together and improve literacy in the children. The funding also pays for improvements to the hubs so they can be enjoyed further by local families and the local community.

It’s not just the children who have benefited. Kareena says: “I’ve learned a lot as well, because I’m not a gardener by any means. I’ve started growing vegetables in our home garden. We’ve got broccoli growing now.”

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