Barbican-based community group, Friends Of City Gardens, has been celebrating after discovering it is one of Skipton Building Society’s ‘Big 160, securing a slot as a winner in its Grassroots Giving initiative after winning the hearts and minds of the public and triumphing over nearly 1,000 other applicants across the country.


Friends of City Gardens volunteers hard at work amidst some familiar urban scenery

After being shortlisted in the campaign by the UK’s fourth largest building society, the group’s application was then in the hands of the public vote, to determine if they were to be awarded £500 funding. Shortlisted on Friends Of City Gardens’ story was shared nationally, as well as via Skipton’s social media activity – as a result the local group secured a big enough proportion of the 20,000 votes received to be crowned a winner.
David Cutter, Skipton’s Group Chief Executive said: “Everyone at Skipton Building Society has thoroughly enjoyed running this programme which has brought out of the woodwork so many hard working local community groups, which we would never otherwise have known of. It is these kind of groups that make communities and neighbourhoods stronger, especially in difficult economic times, and we’re delighted to have been able to showcase some of the unsung heroes across the UK who are really going the extra mile to make life better for everyone.”
Friends Of City Gardens is run by around 60 volunteers, who work to improve London’s 200 hidden gardens, tucked away behind office blocks and churches, which without care and attention, are a mere patch of mud and grass. However with a large amount of elbow grease and giving up of spare time, the group work together to plant and grow seeds, and install garden furniture to the land. The funding received from Skipton’s Grassroots Giving Campaign will be hugely beneficial to the group, as it will enable the 32 hectares of land across London, to be transformed into attractive areas for communities to enjoy, in otherwise urban areas.
Sarah Hudson, chair of the group said: “This funding is really going to help contribute to the community coming together and sharing an interest in the environment. We want to share what we do and reach out to other community groups from deprived areas in the city and encourage them to grow the programme of activities with their members, and now we have the means to do that.”