• Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Gardening club cultivates hope for Bangladeshi women in London’s East End

Steered by dedicated volunteers, this initiative is tailored especially for older women of Bangladeshi descent, offering them a place to express themselves freely and connect with their roots

Garden club participants and volunteers

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Vulnerable women in the East End’s Bangladeshi communities now have the opportunity to unite and cultivate their food in a nurturing environment, thanks to a generous grant from the independent charity donor, City Bridge Foundation.

The grant, amounting to £35,760, has been awarded to the St Peter’s Community Wellbeing Projects located in Bethnal Green, with plans to enhance their gardening club for the community, a press release from City Bridge Foundation said.

This initiative, steered by dedicated volunteers, is tailored especially for older women of Bangladeshi descent, offering them a place to express themselves freely and connect with their roots, as highlighted by the project’s coordinator, Khondoker Kamal-uddin.

Sharing insights into the profound impact this gardening club has on its members, Kamal-uddin said many of these women who moved from Bangladesh decades ago, find themselves in urban settings without access to green spaces.

“The community here has changed a lot in recent years and for many of these women, their children have left home and even left London, leaving them feeling lonely and isolated.

“When they come here they can relax, be themselves, laugh, and sing songs together, something Bangladeshi women of their generation find hard to do around men due to cultural and religious reasons.”

Among the thriving community is 66-year-old Nahar Begum, who delights in growing traditional Bangladeshi vegetables like bottle gourd, coriander, and green chillies.

Garden produce

Begum expressed her enthusiasm for the club, stating that it has been a boon for her physical and mental health, offering a space for socialisation, recreation, and the joy of nurturing plants from seedlings to harvest.

In addition to the gardening club, the charity extends its reach through an outreach programme for housebound elders, either by inviting them to participate in gardening sessions or by providing them with plant pots and seeds to cultivate vegetables at home.

Commending the charity, Giles Shilson, Chairman of the City Bridge Foundation said, “For almost a decade, this charity has done a fantastic job of creating a safe space where older women from Bangladeshi communities can feel at home.

“Coming to the sessions means they not only learn more about growing food and staying healthy, they also develop a feeling of freedom and independence which is hugely beneficial to their mental and physical wellbeing.”

City Bridge Foundation chairman Giles Shilson

City Bridge Foundation, a custodian of five Thames crossings including the Tower Bridge, distributes over £30 million annually to various charities across London.

The foundation has also pledged an additional £200 million over the next five years to 2026 to bolster the city’s charitable sector.

With a legacy spanning over 900 years of connecting communities across London, the foundation operates under the stewardship of the City of London Corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile.

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