Residents create urban paradise

Four residents who have recently moved on from Shakespeare Street Hostel have pooled together a love of the outdoors and a commitment to helping each other. They have created a warm, welcoming garden to be proud of at their new home.

Nottinghamshire YMCA supports homeless people in Nottingham rehabilitate themselves into the community through Stage Progression. Residents begin in one of our hostels and move through to transit housing- a step towards independent living- when they are ready. For these four men in particular, it seems the garden is a representation of how far they have come during their time with the YMCA and each other.

The group of four moved into their new home in June. By August they have already transformed their city backyard into an urban paradise. Judging from the surrounding gardens, the work the men have put into this masterpiece in such a short space of time is phenomenal.

They have repaved the floor, planted flowers and vegetables, cut back a tree – “it covered half of the garden before, it was really dark” – and added finishing touches such as solar lights, a washing line and a sun hat resting on a branch for the hot days we’ve been having. One of the residents chuckles when I point out the hat, “I’ve etched a face on the tree; 2 eyes, a smiley mouth”.

“We’ve all worked together, done our bit”, says Andrew*, before Lewis*, the youngest resident, objects “Oh I didn’t do much, just moving stuff and helping with labour. These guys are the creative ones”, Andrew* won’t have it “no, we’ve all done this together…” The camaraderie between all 4 of the men is warming. They’ve bonded over their time here, after meeting at the Winter Night Shelter last year and working with Emmanuel House on an allotment scheme and going on walks at Attenborough Nature Reserve. “”we’re outdoor people”” says Andrew* which explains why it’s been so important for whole group to have an outside area to relax in.