One of the longest running Community Gardens in Birmingham, Martineau Gardens, has been recognised for its commitment to the community, receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. Awarded during lockdown, when gatherings were not possible, representatives of Martineau Gardens received the award from John Crabtree, OBE, Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands on Sunday 17 October at the awards ceremony, at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Martineau Gardens is one of 230 charities, social enterprises, and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
When the City Council-run environmental centre closed, a group of local people came together to create a community garden that would stay open for free, for the public of Birmingham to visit and care for. Established in 1997 as a volunteer-led organisation, today, Martineau Gardens, in Edgbaston, is a thriving independently run registered charity.
It supports volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture programme to look after the 2.5 acre free-to-enter community garden, many of whom have mental health issues and learning disabilities. A team of volunteers welcome over 10,000 visitors each year who come to enjoy its peace and tranquillity and a further team helps with special events and courses.
Hundreds of school children visit the outdoor ‘classrooms’ to learn about the environment. The Gardens have been described by visitors as ‘an oasis of calm in the bustling city’ and as ‘Birmingham’s hidden gem’ – all thanks to the dedication of the wonderful volunteers.
Claire Perry, volunteer at the Gardens for over ten years said “Martineau Gardens means the world to me, to be around nature makes me calm and happy. I came here to boost my confidence, and now I’m here, I feel I’ve come out of the darkness and into the light.”
Munsab Kahn, volunteer at the Gardens said “Volunteering has given me a role – there was a massive hole in my life but when I began volunteering here, I could see there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
Gill Milburn, outgoing CEO for Martineau Gardens said “We are delighted and honoured to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Volunteers are the beating heart of Martineau Gardens. Whether supporting our work week in week out, or rising to the challenge when needed, each one makes a difference. The Award is testament to hundreds of volunteers past and present, who have given selflessly to care for our beautiful community space. We look forward to being able to have everyone back at the Gardens for a well-deserved celebration.”
Jenni Fryer, incoming CEO for Martineau Gardens said “Martineau Gardens is a much-loved, much-valued green space in the heart of the community welcoming over 10,000 visitors every year who come to enjoy its peace and tranquillity. The Gardens wouldn’t be the welcoming beautiful space it is without our volunteers.”
Martineau Gardens is open Monday to Saturday, 10am until 4pm for visits and is free to enter.