Concept and aims
Bolton Station Community Development Partnership (BSCDP) has been working with two Prince’s Trust teams over the last year to create a thriving garden area on Platform 4 at Bolton Station. Based at Bolton Central Fire Station, the Prince’s Trust has been working with young people ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET) to give them an intensive and life-changing experience during the 12 weeks during which they attend the course. Julie Levy, vice-chair of the BSCDP, has past experience of working with young people who have additional needs and was very happy to meet both cohorts of young people to explain the concept of the projects.
The first team of young people were managed by Dan Bridge, who has gone on to become a full-time fire fighter, assisted by Connor Redford. This group included individuals who had tried to attend further and higher education courses and not managed to complete them for various reasons, others who had been unemployed since leaving school and some who had not even completed their secondary school education. One of the young people had recently been homeless and all of them were disaffected and quite negative about their future prospects. When the project was initially explained to them, many members of the group seemed disinterested but a few asked questions and showed enthusiasm for doing some research about making planters, soil types and plants suitable for a station platform environment.
During the course of the two projects many different organisations donated materials, plants and general support including Men In Sheds, Forget-Me-Not Trust, Wilko, Tesco, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Old Hall Farm Friends of Longsight Park and Network Rail. A second generous award from TfGM and Northern enabled the project to be successfully completed. The project was officially completed by the Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Elaine Sherrington, and the two teams of young people gradated at a ceremony at the University of Bolton, where they received certificates marking their successful completion of the project.
Under the guidance of Connor Redford and Jess Browning the young people also collected horse manure and lining material and filled the planters on the platform. Staff from Northern and ISS were very supportive of both teams during the mammoth task of transporting tons of soil, decking planks and plants from the station entrance down to and along a very lengthy platform.
The project has helped improve the lives and prospects of over 20 local young people, providing new skulls and a new found sense of confidence, and has dramatically improved an area of the station that was previously desolate and without any notable features. The partnership hope to work on further projects with the Trust, looking at innovative ideas for further enhancing the space, including the possibility of using a redundant railway carriage as a greenhouse and training area.