Cash from kerb crawlers helps to revamp church
VOLUNTEERS have transformed a church garden – with cash from a kerb crawling scheme.
The money has benefited St John's Church, in Burslem, after being paid out by men caught looking for prostitutes in Stoke-on-Trent's red light district.
The scheme was set up so kerb crawlers actually put something back into the communities where they committed their crimes.
More than 25 volunteers – including parishioners and staff from Severn Trent Water – dug up the overgrown land at the Woodbank Street church.
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They have created a sensory garden for children.
Church leader Lydia Palmer, aged 47, of Wycliffe Street, Burslem, said: "There has been a lot of regeneration funding going into Burslem and we were happy to be approached for the garden project.
"We hope that this new area will pull the community together and everyone has worked so hard to make it a reality."
The church received £250 from Severn Trent as well as £250 from fixed penalty fines handed to the kerb cralwers.
PC Les Bertolone attended yesterday's opening ceremony of the garden.
He said: "It is a very good thing, especially as the money has come from that area of crime because Burslem is affected by prostitution.
"It is taking money from the negative parts of society and trying to re-invest it in positive schemes that will actually help the people."
Severn Trent became involved after asking Stoke-on-Trent North MP Joan Walley if she knew of any worthwhile causes in the area.
Help was also provided by Midland Heart housing association and youngsters at Haywood Engineering College.
Midland Heart contracts manager Darren Bennett, aged 49, said: "We heard about the scheme and thought it was a great way to get involved.
"It is true that Burslem has been blighted by issues such as prostitution in the past and it is marvellous that these kinds of funds can go straight back into a worthwhile scheme."
Volunteers improved three sections of the churchyard, replanting a memorial garden and adding shrubs and bedding to disused areas.
Mrs Palmer added: "This has been a great way to bind all generations of the community and we have had children here making ladybird boxes and painting stones.
"It is lovely for them and it can be an important lesson in how to work together."
The garden will now be used by children's groups run by the church.
Apprentice Jacob Gallear, aged 22, of Hamil Road, Burslem, who helped to dig up the garden, said: "I feel that we are giving something back to the community and it will be a big help to the church.
"I think they are pleased with what we have achieved."
The church also hopes that the herb garden – which includes mint, rosemary and chives – can be used in its cooking lessons.
Councillor Alan Dutton, who represents Burslem Central, said: "This is another example of how this church works with, and on behalf of, the wider community.
"It will be a great asset to the area and can be used from the toddler groups for a bug hunt up to the older children."