The growing success of an allotment in Tottenham to transform lives and nurture the community it serves has earned the charity which runs it recognition from the Queen.
The Living Under One Sun charity has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service-the highest accolade given to voluntary groups in the UK.
It’s project at the East Hale allotment site in Millmead Road, adjoining Tottenham Marshes, is about more than just inspiring residents to grow their own fruit and veg
Its runs a range of other activities to forge community links and develop skills, from learning about bee-keeping, to school visits, to a bike club where young cyclists can learn to ride safely and fix their bikes.
The charity was among just over 200 projects across the UK to receive the prestigious award when they were announced last month.
The award was given for: “Bringing nature closer to communities and creating community-led well being and healthy connected neighbourhoods.”
The allotment also receives referrals from mental health, drug and alcohol services or the long-term unemployed helping rehabilitate patients and equipping jobseekers with vital work skills .
The charity was founded 12 years ago by its co-ordinator, Leyla Laksari, a maths teacher who came to Britain after the Iranian revolution,
Based in the Neighbourhood Resource Centre in Park Lane, Tottenham, where it still has its HQ, it was originally set up as a way for mothers and residents on nearby housing estates to meet up and feel a sense of ownership of their own neighbourhood.
“Tottenham has a rich history and it holds our stories and our heritage,” she said,
“We want to help build on our communities’ aspiration and skills and together face the challenges ahead.”
The charity is continuing to expand having won the bid from Haringey Council to transform the disused bowls club house at Down Lane Park, Tottenham Hale, into a vibrant community hub and cafe.
To be known as Tottenham’s Cafe Connect, it will be delivered in partnership with local mental health organisation, HAIL.
It will feature a community cafe with fresh food supplied from the charity’s allotment, a ’global oven,’, a greenhouse for organic food growing, a performance space and pop-up community marketplace, plus a space for events and meetings and opportunities for training, volunteering and crafts.