Sarah Beydoun is a full time volunteer and the secretary of Teesdale & Hollybush Tenants and Residents Association, a TRA that has transformed parts of the estate that were once the focal points for anti-social behaviour into award-wining community gardens.

Sarah’s involvement began with a sense that something needed to change. Led by Chairperson Margaret Cox, they decided to tackle the issue by bringing life back to neglected parts of the estate.

Starting with the community centre in 2008, they have renovated 13 disused sites with the help of corporate and local volunteers, creating a ‘mini Eden’ where local nature can thrive. The eve-catching sites include a children’s playground, a number of allotments and Tower Hamlet’s first orchard, Strawberry Fields. Creative in their use of resources, they keep sustainability at the heart of what they do – even some of the plants have been recycled from local park rangers or house clearances.

One of the year-on-year awards winning sites, Rocky Park, provides free plots to residents to encourage them to grow their own healthy produce. The original allotments were so popular they quickly had to expand to allow for more grow beds.

Sarah has seen the gardens have a big impact on her local community, proving not only a great opportunity to get to know the neighbours, but also stimulating a sense of ownership and pride in residents for their estate. The gardens have been recognised far and wide, with visits from the Prince of Wales and East End ‘royal’, Barbara Windsor.

This article can be found in the East2 Insider’s Guide to Bethnal Green Magazine 2015. – See more at: http://issuu.com/walkeast/docs/east_2_2015_issuu_2 

-By Helen Barstow