Coronavirus hasn’t stopped ROCA recipients growing for gold in High Crompton

LONELINESS has affected a lot of people during lockdown but thanks to funding from First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO), a local community group in High Crompton is bringing people together by growing fresh food.

High Crompton Park Friends received just over £400 in ROCA (Respect our Community Awards) funding from social housing provider FCHO.

They used the money to purchased planters and compost to begin a community growing and social hub.

From tomatoes, cucumbers and chard, to potatoes, beetroot and even sweet peas, the group has been busy over the last few weeks and is set for a promising harvest over the summer months.

Helen Boulter, Secretary of High Crompton Park Friends, said: “We can’t thank FCHO enough. The grant we received through ROCA has enabled us to buy the equipment to make our little dream into a reality.

“It’s so much more than growing food and plants. It’s the social element that really makes the difference.

“A lot of locals have been isolating due to coronavirus and sometimes going to the growing hub has been their only social interaction that day.

“We’re all able to visit the hub safely and practice social distancing while we’re there.

“If there’s a few of us, we can sit on benches for a natter ensuring we’re a safe distance away from each other. It’s helping to combat loneliness in our local community, which means so much to us.

“The hub is for anybody in the community to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, into gardening and growing or have never sewn a seed in your life – everyone is welcome here.

“The idea is that it encourages people who might feel stuck indoors to come out and have a look what’s going on, swap seeds or bring their own and just have a go.

“Then when the harvest’s ready, people can come and take something fresh to eat. I’m really looking forward to tomato and cucumber sandwiches!

“We’re looking at buying even more planters and we’re hoping for an outdoor gym at some point, so watch this space!”

Resma Patel, Funding and Partnerships Officer at FCHO, said: “ROCA funding helps the lives of so many people across Oldham and I’m so pleased to hear how the plans of community groups like High Crompton Park Friends have come to life.

“Hearing these wonderful stories and how the money has been used not only to grow fresh fruit and veg, but to combat isolation and loneliness, especially in these difficult times of lockdown, is simply heart-warming.”

(FCHO) is a profit-for-purpose housing association. ROCA is a funding scheme hosted by FCHO which offers small grants to community and voluntary groups in Oldham.

Visit www.fcho.co.uk/your-neighbourhood/awards-and-competitions/roca-2020/ for more information. The applications process is open twice a year in spring and autumn, and is currently closed.

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