Championing young people: New sensory garden funded by UKSPF officially opens

Posted on: Monday, July 24, 2023

Volunteer students at Newark Orchard School have undertaken a community improvement project led by Volunteer it Yourself (VIY) to create a sensory garden.

Supported by Newark and Sherwood Council, through funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the project provided practical skills for local young people whilst creating a space to help students learn and enjoy the outdoors together.

The new garden officially opened last week after VIY and the students transformed this previously under-utilised space, working hard to prepare the surface to install a hardcore pathway around the perimeter and in the centre of the garden. The students also built bespoke seating and child-friendly planters in the garden, ensuring this fully accessible space can be enjoyed by all students. The students have added several of their own touches to the garden to create a multi-purpose and unique space for the future, with various interactive learning and creativity opportunities throughout.

The project has enabled the young volunteers to develop vital new skills and accreditations that can help them pursue a future career or interest, in addition to providing students at the school with valuable space they can take pride in.

The project was able to go ahead with the support of funding received from Newark and Sherwood District Council as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Volunteer It Yourself is an organisation that challenges young people to regenerate community spaces whilst learning new vocational skills. Their projects support local young people aged 14-24 by equipping them with employability skills and qualifications, including City & Guides accreditation. Learners are mentored by professional tradespeople, and projects are developed through engagement with the local community to identify improvements that will benefit local residents. Further details about VIY can be found here:

Councillor Rowan Cozens, Deputy Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council said: “It was fantastic to attend the official opening of the sensory garden at Newark Orchard School! The students showed me round the garden with rightful pride, describing their own contributions as we walked round, from Josh moving the hardcore, to Sapphire and her wonderful fairy creations. They have all been involved to make it a very special place full of meaningful touches and individual stories. I particularly enjoyed the name panel and the yarn bombed tree trunks. I am really pleased we have been able to support, through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, this brilliant project.

“What an amazing place, made by amazing people!”

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is providing £2.6 billion of new funding that local authorities were able to bid for and invest in their districts and boroughs by March 2025.

In December 2022, it was announced the District Council had successfully secured £3.28m to allocate to eligible local organisations. More information can be found on the Newark and Sherwood District Council website: