A Gloucestershire woman has set up a community garden and recycling area right in the center of Gloucester, aiming to create a ‘safe space’ for locals who might want a cheap beer, salvaged furniture or just a chat friendly. Tucked into the side of a railway arch on the road between Kingsholm Stadium and the centre, The Railway Garden is a hidden gem in the heart of the city.
The Worcester Road Community Center was set up by Laura Mosley, 38, and, as well as offering £1 coffees and £2.50 bacon rolls, creates opportunities and work experience for young people, the disabled or the elderly looking for something to do or someone to talk to. During each month, approximately 15-20 volunteers will come to the Railway Garden to paint, plant or just pass the time.
The space exists in a thin strip of land between the train tracks and Terry’s Barbers, a peaceful oasis that hides just out of sight. Founder Laura said: “It’s not about making money, we don’t sell any of our stuff on eBay or Amazon, it’s about creating something for the community and the people who live here. ”
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Money raised from repaired or recycled items is reinvested in improving the space, which Laura is on a mission to improve while spreading the word to anyone who might benefit. She has seen people with different abilities and different levels of experience learn skills in food preparation, customer service and horticulture while working at the Railway Garden.
Laura said: “I used to work as a cleaner but found half the job was talking to someone – which I loved, but wanted something different. So, I bought a sandwich van, got a spot near a charity shop in Nailsworth and it was a real hit.”
The 38-year-old mother and entrepreneur moved to Gloucester and, following the coronavirus closures, set out to create a green outdoor space that could be used by all members of the community. Those most affected and most isolated in those two years have been the elderly and disabled unable to leave their homes or see loved ones – now Laura invites them in for a drink.
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She said: “If you have something that’s old or a little worn, you can take it apart and we’ll clean it up and make it like new – or better. We even have someone to PAT test our electrical equipment, so all donations are great.
“If you live alone or need to get out for a bit you can just come in for a coffee – not everyone can do something physical but they can chat or offer advice. If you do something it goes up for the whole community to enjoy it.
“There are no boundaries here, if someone wants to work on the garden or paint something, I tell them to do it! I believe we are all creative, we all see things in different ways and I think people should be able to express that.
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“I’ve noticed the difference it makes in people, especially the younger ones, so we work with everyone from the age of 16. It’s important that all of this is done by the community and is also for the community, it’s huge when they see something they’ve worked to put together [in the garden] or sell to a new owner.
“Some visitors have called us a ‘safe space’ where they know they can come to the area and I like that. If you have something to bring or want to lend a hand, I want them to people know they can come here.”
The Railway Garden is on Worcester Road and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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