Team brings church to life

Prince's trust church yard project at St John's in Burgess Hill SUS-141006-151635001
Prince's trust church yard project at St John's in Burgess Hill SUS-141006-151635001

A group of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have helped elderly residents deliver a conservation project in Burgess Hill in memory of a long-standing charity worker.

Twelve men and women aged between 16 and 25 have pulled up their sleeves and wielded their shovels to help increase biodiversity St John’s Church, in Church Walk.

The green fingered group, who are all local to the area, signed themselves onto a 12-week training project, set up by training opportunities provider Asphaleia - part of the Prince’s Trust - to attain work skills and create a better future for themselves.

The yard work, undertaken alongside the church’s conservation team, takes two weeks of the entire programme.

The young group have dedicated their work to a former Prince’s Trust Team Leader at Asphaleia, Ashley Potter, who helped with the first Burgess Hill Scout Hut project last year. He passed away on May 14.

Project leader Rhiannon Wheeler said they will donate a plaque to the memorial garden in his memory.

She said: “Ashley was very involved in local community projects and team residential trips and would motivate and inspire every young person he worked with.

“He will be greatly missed and we hope we can carry on his legacy in the Prince’s Trust.”

Sheila Preston, the church’s conservation team organiser, said the group of youngsters have helped her team of more elderly residents turn the yard into a conservation area.

She said: “They are doing splendid work. To have this youthful energy is fantastic. They seem to get so much more done than we do! I’m 75 and us oldies really welcome people to come in and do some physical work.”

“We’re hoping this could be at least an annual event if not more. It’s worked much better than I ever thought it would!”

The team have created habitats around the yard by creating log piles.

They spent two days fund raising for the tools needed to take part in the project. They held competitions in the town centre and raised £163.81.

This money funded gardening equipment and conservation kits which will be given to the church to hand out to community groups.

The kits will include identification sheets with photos of the different plants and wildlife in the yard.

They will also hold magnifying glasses and insect pots.

Rhiannon explained how the work would help to provide the group to attain skills to help better their futures.

She said: “Throughout the 12 weeks they work with so many different community groups. They get lots of good feedback so they really feel they’ve achieved something and they’ve managed and run it all themselves.”