Helping refugees to grow food and make friends in Brighton and Hove

A community-run social enterprise offering a place in nature for refugees and other marginalised groups has successfully crowd-funded £4,122 in 30 days.

Common Ground
Common Ground

Common Ground, which is based in Stanmer Park, was raising the money to pay for an outdoor kitchen and a polytunnel.

Members also hope to build a workshop so land-based skills classes can be run all year round.

Roxy Khan-Williams, project coordinator, said: “What’s been really amazing throughout the whole process is meeting so many people who are passionate about what we want to create. The project has been really well-received by the refugee community, which is really nice.”

Common Ground

Run by volunteers, the project provides a place for marginalised groups in the community to learn how to grow food and cook, while also providing them with some invaluable social experiences.

The project is part of the Stanmer Organics cooperative, a Soil Association accredited organic centre.

Common Ground was started with the aim of improving the employability of those who worked on the plot.

However, it was soon realised this could become just another box-ticking exercise for refugees already under a great deal of stress.

Ms Khan-Williams, 23, said the project’s emphasis is now on providing a place for people to be in nature, connect with each other and the land, and share stories.

The refugees decide for themselves what is planted and cooked on the site, and it is hoped the project will soon be able to provide them with an income.

Some of the money from the fundraiser will also go towards helping those who use the allotment to travel to the site.

Various rewards from the plot were offered to those who donated, including a fermented food package and an herb hanging basket, and for those who donated £500 or more there was the opportunity to take part in a spoon-carving day for eight people.

In the future, Common Ground hopes to be able to reach out to other marginalised groups, including the homeless and the unemployed.

The project is looking for people to volunteer to help with administration, social media and marketing, and working on the land.

It is also planning a buddy system which would match a refugee with a volunteer.

Those interested in getting involved should contact [email protected]