A ‘blooming’ lockdown

Ageing Better Middlesbrough member Mavis Arnold has been doing her best to raise spirits...

Ageing Better Middlesbrough member Mavis Arnold has been doing her best to raise spirits for people in the local community during these uncertain times.

The 82 year old has brought half a dozen neighbours together to collectively decorate their back alley with flowers, plant pots and beautiful hanging baskets – in what would otherwise be an ordinary, rubbish ridden area.

The story started over a decade ago, when Mavis applied for funding from West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust, after an initial government grant seen large iron gates fitted to the end of each alley way.

“I and my neighbours felt a little more secure when the gates were introduced, so I thought it would be a good idea to transform the alley in to a green space.” She said.

“The organisation thought that this was a great idea, so funding was given pretty much straight away.”

Residents rallied together to do everything they could to transform the space, and a real community spirit ensued, with people between the ages of 18 and 80 helping to re-generate the space.

With everyone mucking in, it wasn’t long before the area became the talk of the town.

Fast forward to the present day, and this same space shows no sign of deteriorating.

“We still keep planting new flowers every year. It’s funny how something so small can have a major impact on someone’s life. We even have younger generations helping out now, so that’s great to see.”

The beautiful back alley space in central Middlesbrough.

The area has also made a huge difference during the current Covid-19 uncertainty, with residents continuing to maintain its up keep.

“Even during these uncertain times, we still sit out the back and have a natter with each other while sitting a distance away.

“It makes a real difference still being able to look at all the beautiful flowers and continue our love of horticulture while in a lockdown situation.

“I lived through the Second World War and I remember my school being bombed when I was a young girl in South Shields. We stayed at home for a long time back in the day because it was too scary to go outside, so I’m quite happy listening to government advice during this pandemic.

Mavis also has some sound advice for those who may be looking at creating their own little green space, or brightening up their living rooms and kitchens.

“If any members are reading this and need some inspiration, just buy a couple of little bedding pots. It’ll make a huge impression and certainly brighten up the room.

“By that point you’ll be bitten by the bug and move on to bigger and more beautiful plants.”


If you have an interesting story to tell, please get in touch by emailing: chris.adamson@middlesbroughandstocktonmind.org.uk

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