10 Workspace volunteers build a community garden for the most sustainable building in London.

Building on its longstanding sustainability and community work, Workspace re-launched its Corporate Responsibility strategy earlier this year, setting out its aim to ‘Do The Right Thing’ and has since carried out more than 50 volunteering days under this plan.

As Workspace’s Sustainability Manager, Karen Jamison, explains: “Doing The Right Thing goes beyond simply reducing the environmental impact of our properties and supply chains, but means giving back to our local communities and supporting education, employment and local economies.”

Workspace selected Groundwork as one of its charity partners because of the fantastic work it does for communities by improving their economic prospects and creating greener, more sustainable places to live and work.

Back in June, a group from Workspace’s Kennington Park teamed up with Groundwork create a vibrant community garden on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Feedback from the organisers and community was glowing. Most of all, they wanted to know: “Are your teams ready for more yet...?”

London Royal Docks – the future of cities

A few months later, a group of 10 intrepid Workspace volunteers – many of whom travelled in style via the Emirate Air Line cable cars (infamously used by just four regular commuters following its opening four years ago) – headed to Royal Victoria Docks.

The Boris-sponsored cable system is one example of the prevalent urban regeneration revitalising the Royal Docks.

Formerly one of London’s largest and most commercially successful docks, the area was devastated by the Blitz in 1940 – an estimated 25,000 tons of bombs fell on the docklands. Some 40 years later, the London Docklands Development Corporation was formed to find new uses for the former docks of London.

Today the area is being transformed with a £3.7 billion regeneration programme, including improved town centres, schools and new open spaces.

Fittingly, located in the heart of Docklands’ abundant regeneration is The Crystal – a public museum dedicated to the world’s largest exhibition on the future of cities. The exhibition showcases global trends and challenges, alongside existing technological solutions to build sustainable cities.

Replanting the garden

The Crystal is also the UK’s most sustainable building and includes publicly accessible biodiverse garden. This surrounding area was designed to be “a sustainable urban landscape to help encourage a shift in the broader social ideolog,” says the London Borough of Newham. An important focal point for the local community, the gardens are used extensively for youth visits and community engagement activities. All of the plants have been donated and recycled from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – and many of the vegetables will feed it into the local food programmes.

Doing their bit for the transformation of this public open space, the Workspace team were put to work on replanting the garden. One set of volunteers hauled a total of 14 tonnes of mulch from the road across the site to the flower beds. The other team undertook the replanting process: weeding the 1,000 sq. ft. beds before planting the mix of shrubbery and herbs.

More than 150 plants were laid in total. And, although many of the volunteers had seen enough mulch for one day, a regular community visitor remarked: “The garden looks amazing, it has transformed the space - the mulch makes it look beautiful!” 

Community spirit

Paige Matthews, Groundwork’s Community Project Officer, said: "I am so grateful to the volunteers. They worked really hard to get the job done, above and beyond what we could have expected. They had such an attention to detail - the gardens look amazing. It was a pleasure to meet such a lovely and enthusiastic group of people whose work has accelerated the progress of the project at The Crystal garden. The volunteers were great working in the heat, moving 14 tonnes of mulch! One of the best groups I've worked with."

Clare Lisney, an Executive Assistant at Workspace, said: “I loved the volunteering day for Groundworks and got so much more out of it than I expected.”

“Not only did it feel rewarding – having worked hard for a worthwhile cause – the active element was also satisfying since I usually spend most of my time at my desk. Best of all, it was great getting to know colleagues who I don’t work closely with on a day-to-day basis – and the team comradery made it a really enjoyable experience!”

Here at Workspace we work a little differently and we certainly strive to make our spaces somewhere people love to be in. You can read all about our Doing The Right Thing Campaign here

Find more information on how to get involved with Groundwork here. You can read more about The Crystal building and the future cities exhibition here.

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