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New community garden takes root at Middlesbrough refuge at Rainham House

Families at a Middlesbrough refuge are enjoying a relaxing new outdoor space.

A lottery-funded community garden has been officially opened at Rainham House after a £10,000 revamp.

The facility, opened by Cherie Blair in 2012, provides housing and support for up to 26 women with complex needs and those fleeing domestic violence.

More than 50 people attended the launch of a “roots and shoots” project, which will see staff and residents wanting to improve their gardening skills or learn new ones at workshops.

The day was also used to uncover a pagoda at one end of the garden, which has been dedicated to two staff members who recently passed away.

Team manager Pauline Byrnes said: “The day went extremely well, it really couldn’t have gone any better.

“We were joined by residents but also family members of the staff who lost their lives, so it really was a special but emotional occasion.”

The garden, which was only finished three weeks ago, is split off to include a working area and a contemplation area.

The original children’s area has been integrated into the new design to make it the perfect relaxation place for all ages.

A greenhouse, shed, raised beds and a compost area make up the working garden, which Pauline hopes will benefit a variety of people.

She said: “ Personally I think the garden offers lots of opportunities on many different levels.

“First of all it gets people out into the fresh air doing physical activity.

“It will get people working together and it’s interesting for children to learn and see where food comes from.

“We already have spinach, beetroot, radish and mixed leaf coming through and several fruit trees including apple, plums and pears.”

As well as helping occupants, Pauline hopes that other temporary housing accommodations will profit from using the garden and is looking for volunteers to help out when possible.

Angela Lockwood, chief executive of North Star Housing, which operates the facility, cut the ribbon to open the garden.

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