The grant programme helped Ozge to realise her idea which was to create workshops that combine education on eating healthily with growing food from seeds and cooking from scratch. Having previously worked for the NHS as a community healthy eating teacher, Ozge’s knowledge and experience of running sessions for people from different backgrounds have been valuable in helping individuals and families to eat well and stay healthy.
Ozge’s sessions focus on learning about diets with reduced salt, sugar and oil as well as teaching about growing your own food from seeds. This is what Ozge enjoys the most, as she believes that gaining a deeper understanding of where our food comes from promotes a positive relationship with what we eat and can help improve both our mental and physical health. She says: “I always see the community I am living in like my family.’
She has formed a network from working with diverse groups of people, including children, the elderly, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people of different ethnicities. Bringing people together is a key part of her mission and having worked with a diverse group of people she’s formed a network which includes children, the elderly, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people of different ethnicities. One of her workshop participants told her ‘I’m so pleased to have found you.’
The sessions are free, but people have shown their gratitude and generosity by donating food and homemade gifts, such as knitted dishcloths. Attendees are enthusiastic to learn and keep in touch by sharing photos with one another to record the growth of their homegrown vegetables, including garlic and leeks.
The Making Space for Nature Community Fund isn’t just about improving green spaces, it also encourages a positive relationship between communities and their environment, and this has been one of the great successes of Ozge’s sessions. And not just this, Ozge thanks the grant for helping her gain back the confidence she lost during the lockdown period, saying, “I was so happy and nervous when I went back to teaching and I was relieved that I hadn’t lost my skills.” The grant helped Ozge financially, but also with her personal skills and she encourages others to build their confidence by doing something they believe in.
“The application process was very straightforward,” she explained. “Before I applied I called the number on the ad and talked with Rupal from Groundwork. From then until now I've felt supported by Rupal, and she always responds to my emails and answers my calls. It’s very important to have someone you can contact, have support [from] and who is professional.”
Since receiving the grant, Ozge has acquired additional funding from the local council to run sessions with the Children’s Centre and Youth Club and continues to work with more groups in the community, sharing her knowledge to help make people happier and healthier.
If you too have an idea of how to improve the green spaces in Thamesmead, or how to help build your community’s relationship with the environment, why not apply for a grant like Ozge?