Merton’s Mitcham Community Orchard and Gardens and Merton’s Public Health service have been nationally recognised by the Local Government Chronicle awards. In addition, the South London SEN commissioning programme, a collaboration of 10 south London boroughs of which Merton is a founder member who jointly commission special educational needs services, has also been recognised.
Shortlisted in the Community Involvement category, the Mitcham Community Orchard and Gardens is a community initiative led by the council with the support of Sustainable Merton and the local community as part of the Love Your Street campaign. Previously an abandoned and neglected field since WW2, blighted by dog fouling, fly tipping and graffiti, Fieldgate Lane has since transformed into Mitcham Community Orchard and Gardens: a beautiful community space filled with organically grown fruit and vegetables available to the whole community, with the support of 150 volunteers and local businesses and paid for completely by sponsorship.
Merton’s Public Health team has also been shortlisted in the public health category. The team has made a significant impact on residents’ health, since the council became responsible for public health two years ago working closely with health partners to make sure public health is the first thought, not the afterthought. They’ve rolled out a number of initiatives including a local healthy schools programme, supporting children and families to get more active; a befriending scheme to reduce isolation among older people; as well developing a borough wide food charter encouraging local food outlets to provide healthy choices for residents and encourage them to eat a healthy diet
The South London SEN commissioning programme of which Merton is a member, has been shortlisted in the efficiency category. The programme is a collaboration of 10 south London boroughs who commission good quality special educational needs services, saving nearly £15k per borough each year and close to £2m across all the authorities over the last 18 months.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “This is great news for Merton. I’m proud to see our work being nationally recognised for looking after our greenspace as well as the special educational needs and health of our residents.”