Case study on showing your impact - The Hidden Gardens

In conjunction with Greenspace Scotland, The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow's South Side used the LEAP planning and evaluation tool to help collect information on what had been effective in improving poor or degraded urban environments.  LEAP proved so helpful that The Hidden Gardens now uses LEAP more widely in its wider social and environmental regeneration work.

Background

The Hidden Gardens is a major social and environmental regeneration project located in Pollokshields, Glasgow. The project transformed an area of industrial waste-land in a deprived area into a place of The Hidden Gardens in Springinspiration, celebration and involvement.

It is helping to improve the quality of life for the local community and acting as a catalyst for further social improvement and sustainable growth in the area. The design of the gardens was achieved through collaboration between the local community, a team of artists, landscape architects and arts organisation and charity NVA. The concept that the group worked to create was a ‘paradise garden’.

The vision of the project was:

  • To create an inspirational, sanctuary garden, designed and developed in liaison with the local, predominantly Asian, community.

The aims are:

  • To develop a quality, accessible and sustainable environmental resources for the people of Glasgow and visitors to the city.
  • To support the aspirations of the local community and provide an imaginative focus for area regeneration and integration.
  • To develop a programme of cultural, community and educational events and activities, that encourage and enable access to the space by the widest range of potential visitors
  • To promote individual learning and cultural awareness.
  • To encourage people to engage with their local environment.

Growth and development

In 2010, Greenspace Scotland developed a Greenspace LEAP framework in conjunction with Scottish Community Development Centre and the creation of the Hidden Gardens gave them an opportunity to LEAP logodocument a worked example using this framework.

LEAP stands for Learning, Evaluation and Planning, and takes you through a 4 stage cycle of planning what you want to achieve, recording what you do and reviewing what you have done. 

Greenspace Scotland had started to work on adapting the framework because although significant efforts had been put into addressing the problems associated with poor or degraded urban environments they had very little information on what had been effective. They felt that the information they did have was piecemeal and there was no overall picture of what worked and why.

When they consulted their partners they found that they were frustrated with their current monitoring procedures, as they did not focus on useful areas and did not allow them to learn from what they were doing or to recognize and value the impact of their work.

Achievements

Greenspace practitioners who used the pilot version of the framework noted the following positive attributes of the LEAP approach:

  • It provides a framework for actionMeadow Launch/Doors Open Day 17th September 2011
  • It captures good practice
  • It boosts the confidence of all those involved
  • It provides an opportunity to sit back, look at and think about what has been achieved
  • It enables effectiveness to be measured – and exposes defects
  • It is rewarding for staff as it provides evidence of success
  • It allows a convincing case for funding to be made, increasing the chances of obtaining funds
  • It is applicable to work at a local/single project level; at a programme-wide level and at a policy level
  • It supports and empowers communities and encourages community decision making
  • Its use in community development and in health makes it easier to develop common agendas between these areas of work and greenspace projects and programme – we share a common leap language

Lessons and learning

The Hidden Gardens stated that LEAP was a good standard of practice for the organisation.  In the past, they acknowledged, the old system had been haphazard and not strategic. Through using LEAP, partnership working became easier, as the tool helped establish a clear system for agreeing what partners will do, who will do what and how partners will know that it has been achieved.

Fragrant 2005Another finding was that LEAP enabled the Hidden Gardens to make the link between strategic planning and day-to-day planning.  This is because it allows users to have one system for everything, training you to plan at the outset and making sure you are going into the project for the right reasons.  The Hidden Gardens appreciated the framework’s emphasis on consistently reviewing what you are doing and how you are doing it.

The Hidden Gardens continues to make use of LEAP for project planning and evaluation purposes. 

For more information on The Hidden Gardens visit http://thehiddengardens.org.uk

For more information on LEAP visit http://www.planandevaluate.com

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