Luke Newcombe Grow22

At the beginning of November 2019, GrowN22 founder, Luke 'Duke' Newcombe, set up a fundraising page to support Haringey Giving’s first ever Big Give Christmas Challenge Appeal

For every volunteer that attended a workshop at the Westbury Bank Nature Reserve during November and December, Luke donated a £1. 

We caught up with Luke to find out more about his motivation for setting up the campaign and how he went about it

Hi Luke! Could you start by telling us a little more about yourself and how GrowN22 came about?

I’m one of the Founders of GrowN22, a Community Interest Company set up with the aim of putting the Green back into Wood Green! GrowN22 was inspired by the National Park City initiative and was involved in the declaration of London recognised as the World's first National Park City in June 2019 by the London Mayor. As a resident of Noel Park, I am a resident partner in the Noel Park Big Local and project manage the Westbury Banks Nature Reserve. I was awarded a 'Good Neighbour Award' by Nextdoor for my community work. 

Fantastic! So what motivated you to get involved with Haringey Giving?

At the end of each year I donate a percentage of what I have earned in the past year to a random charity. Christmas is a time for charity and giving. When I found out about Haringey Giving and their Christmas campaign, I thought that this would be a very unique way to work with another organisation, do some good and generate interest in the project; Westbury Banks Nature Reserve.

Could you tell us more about the Westbury Banks Nature Reserve?

It was founded by myself and Dick Tomlinson RIP in March 2017. The site was a fly tipping hotspot and land had overgrown beyond control. We’ve since removed four tonnes of rubbish including parts of a vehicle, needles, the remains of a kitchen and bathroom!

In the past three years, volunteers from across London have installed a log staircase enabling access down the verge. They’ve also created a ’Tree Avenue’ that stretches the length of the reserve and offers visitors a unique perspective of the reserve’s ecology. The Tree Avenue is currently getting lined with a stick fence which creates habitats for insects and, over time, decomposes into nutrients for the surrounding plants and soil. We’ve also installed a wildlife pond and built a ‘Kabir Bird Hide’ out of recycled materials for interested birders!

We’ve hosted hundreds of workshops with lots more to come including outdoor classrooms, an Eco Hut and lots more! 

 A young volunteer holding up a small log

It sounds wonderful and a great example of what a community can achieve through joint action. So how did the Christmas Campaign work?

Haringey Giving and GrowN22 issued a press release and it was emailed to various contacts. I used social media (Twitter, Instagram) to promote the workshops and piggybacked onto the message of the Big Give Christmas Campaign, creating further awareness. 

The campaign brought in a steady stream of residents that volunteered their time to work on the Reserve. The more local residents that are on site the better as it ensures a large number of tasks can be completed over a relatively short period of time. Activities included the expansion of the Tree Avenue, planting 600 hedgerow trees and saplings, with an additional 1000 crocus bulbs planted in the reserves verge. It has raised awareness of the environmental issues that we all face and helped to spruce up the neighbourhood.

It’s great to hear what the campaign was able to achieve on many different levels. Is there anything you’d like to share about your experience with anyone thinking similarly of raising funds for Haringey Giving?  

Haringey Giving were extremely impressive to work with in the planning of our campaign and I am looking forward to Haringey Giving and GrowN22 teaming up again for local good causes. I think that if you are going to raise funds, it can be a daunting task but with the right planning, there are no limitations to what you can accomplish. Once you’ve got a plan, try it out and don’t be disheartened by limited response. Use social media and update it regularly to keep the interest and momentum building. 

  

Thank you very much for your generous support Luke and a big thank you also to the volunteers and organisations that supported your campaign. Is there anything else you’d like to say in conclusion? 

The project has brought residents together for the common good of the community and environment. The Westbury Banks Nature Reserve has been transformed from a fly tipping hotspot into a wildlife haven amidst the concrete jungle. Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers, including Harry Rashid, McDonalds Haringey, the National Park City Initiative, the Noel Park Big Local, Clean Up UK, BID - Future Wood Green, IMBY - In My Back Yard, Haringey Council and Veolia.

Luke’s campaign raised a grand total of £175.48 against a target of £100, which was doubled by our funding partners to £350.96. The funds raised are being disseminated to local good causes through our grants programme.

Want to find out more about Luke’s work?

Check out his recent appearance on London Live here and the Nextdoor award here.  

Inspired by this story? Want to set up your own fundraiser for Haringey Giving?

Please check out our website and get in touch - we'd love to hear from you! 

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Volunteers planting trees in the nature reserve