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A Birmingham man says a local community garden project has provided a lifeline for him during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Livingstone Eco Project, which has just been awarded £1500 by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, offers the opportunity for local residents to do gardening, look after animals, and grow their own produce as a way of managing their anxiety.

The Community Initiatives Fund provides support for voluntary and community activity to help vulnerable people during the COVID 19 crisis. The fund uses money, which can’t be spent on police officer wages, that has been seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The project, based in Birchfield, encourages people to socialise and make friends whilst getting out into the fresh air.

Christopher, project participant, who sadly had to stop his weekly anxiety meetings due to the Coronavirus pandemic, explained how important the Livingstone Eco Centre has been for him.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has been really bad for my mental health. My anxiety group couldn’t meet anymore because of restrictions and I was feeling isolated, lacked purpose and had no structure.

“The Livingstone Eco Centre has given me a routine and motivation, as I know the animals need me to look after them and in return they look after me”.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem, who leads on the Community Initiatives Fund said: “I’m very pleased that we were able to support this group through our Community Initiatives Fund.

“The work that they do will make a significant difference to the local community by providing a space for people to undertake outdoor activities, especially people with mental health issues and those feeling isolated during this Coronavirus pandemic”

Another project participant, Ali, commented “the project will benefit the community by helping people who live in flats and haven’t got a place to grow fruits and vegetables.

“It will also provide an opportunity for children to visit and learn new skills and gain a better understanding of the natural environment”

Project Organiser, Michael Tye, said “we are so grateful to have the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s grant.

“This money will help us buy a container to keep our tools and equipment safe, and get on with the job of making the site ready for use by the wider community”.

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