A Greener Future for Stanley

Youth Social Action / August 14th, 2023

North Durham Academy Community Wellbeing Garden

Building Self-Belief CIO supported a fabulous group of year 9 students from North Durham Academy to create a beautiful Community Wellbeing Garden. The aim was to create a wellbeing space that is both accessible and welcoming to the school and the community. As well as create a garden to increase biodiversity in the area. We hoped to inspire young people to engage more with their environment as well as create a space they can be proud of.

 Our Eco Ambassadors

The students were amazing. They researched the garden, planned what they would include and then took an active part in the work that was needed to put their plans into action. Their feedback says it all. They told us, ‘I really enjoyed how interactive the programme was. The fact that we were all able to get stuck in and were really involved in the progress of the garden and decisions that were made.’


Our group of Eco Ambassadors researched and designed a space that would be welcoming to community members, animals and critters alike. They also used mood boards to demonstrate the types of things they would like to see in the garden. Their plans included a variety of fruit trees, herbs, bug hotels, plants for the bees, and a seating area. With the help of Mark Cookson, a local Landscape Gardener, we created an incredible final plan.


Being involved in the planting of the trees had a major impact, they planted apple, pear, cherry and plum trees. They learnt so much from being involved in the whole process, and one of the students told us how she ‘enjoyed digging and planting and learning how important water was when it came to planting trees.’ We also dug out and lined eight beds that are now filled with a whole variety of perennial plants. The rationale for the garden is to ensure that it is low maintenance, so that the focus can be the enjoyment of being outdoors. There will be a roster where the Eco Ambassadors continue to take responsibility for their garden.


Part of our focus was to include local volunteers and engage them in community social action. We couldn’t have done this project without them. They worked for full days, digging and creating beds, and planting the larger trees. What an amazing bunch of people to come along in their own time to help. A special mention to Maria Elsy, who with the help of community volunteers, we spent a day planting trees, as well as creating the planters where the Eco Ambassadors planted Mediterranean and English herbs, wild strawberries. In the autumn, we plan to plant fruit bushes. This is part of the long-term plan, to make the garden sustainable and provide produce for the school and the community to use.


As part of the project, the young people were very interested in upcycling and making the garden as environmentally friendly as possible. We upcycled old tyres to make colourful planters for the garden. The young people also built bug hotels to encourage bugs into the garden. We completed the garden by creating more flower beds and planted even more beautiful wildflowers, as well as lavender to invite bees to the garden. The Eco Ambassadors said that ‘I enjoyed making the bug hotels and painting the tyres because it is not something that you often get to do- it was a unique experience.’

Feedback from our Funders

Stacey Dobson from Karbon Homes came along to our presentation and said:

“The work that the young people have put into this project and what they have achieved is nothing short of inspirational. Having visited the garden myself; I have seen first-hand how much time, love and effort has been committed into making the space into an area that can be enjoyed by the whole community.”

After seeing our film of the project, the DWF Foundation said:

“What a lovely video! So great to see the year 9 students and volunteers get stuck in no matter the weather. We are very proud to have supported such a fantastic project ”

Thank you

Building Self-Belief CIO would like to say a huge thank you to The DWF foundation, Karbon Homes and The Nineveh Charitable Trust for funding the project. Plus, to the staff at North Durham Academy for their support, in particular Bethany Robson. Most of all we would like to thank our Eco Ambassadors, they were amazing throughout and tackled every task with enthusiasm and dedication. We couldn’t have done it without you all!

Our film

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