October 3 2011

In the coming weeks, Haven News will be taking a look at the work of the Newhaven Community Development Association (NCDA), starting this week with the Healthy Lifestyles project.

NCDA was set up in 1997, initially to oversee the regeneration of Newhaven, aiming to spend European monies that it had been fortunate enough to receive for the good of the people of Newhaven. With its current mission statement of 'Community regeneration through integrated voluntary sector action', the NCDA now aims to provide a voice for the community, as well as developing sustainable community based initiatives, maintaining community involvement in development, and helping the community to help themselves

A membership of 70 local community groups - voluntary and community organisations active in Newhaven and the surrounding area - is key to the NCDA's ability to stay in-tune with the needs of the local community and develop projects that respond to these needs. Such projects aim to make a difference by focusing on priority areas related to health, education and skills, employment and inclusion.

One project is that of Healthy Lifestyles, co-ordinated by Sally Foote and Jenny Leon. The project focuses on the development of activities and initiatives which address food and health and promote access to physical activity. The team has benefitted from a number of lottery grants that have all been put to good use for the community.

Under the Open Spaces banner it has established the Growing Together Community Garden on Pevensey Road in Newhaven, funded by the People's Millions Lottery Grant. "It was especially pleasing to win this grant," said Healthy Lifestyles Development Manager, Sally Foote, "as it was gained via people voting through the television programme Meridian Tonight."

Open to the public, the garden provides an open space for the local community to use as its own, and to enjoy throughout the year. It features a series of raised beds suitable for growing fruit and vegetables, a wildlife aspect and a tranquillity area, as well as incorporating easy wheelchair and buggy access.

Pictured: People of all ages recently enjoyed the Community Garden Open Day.

Throughout the year, a whole range of family and learning activities are delivered by the team at the garden. Catering for the whole community, from those who are currently unemployed, to seniors and families, recent activities have included a summer barbeque, attended by over 60 people, and open-air cookery courses with community chef, Olly Dawson. Currently running are a series wildlife gardening workshops, held every Tuesday until late October, focusing on different groups of animals each week and offering practical skills and ideas to encourage wildlife into the garden.

Another of the Healthy Lifestyles team's projects is that of Reaching Communities, a three year project funded by a grant from the BIG Lottery, to promote health and wellbeing in the open spaces of Newhaven. Having previously offered Tai Chi in the park, the project has recently launched a series of 'Buggy Walks' from Denton Island, taking place every Wednesday and growing in popularity week-on-week. Its 'Healthy Walks' initiative has also gained quite a following, with hour-long outings each Friday using a number of easily accessible routes, allowing participants to take in and learn about our beautiful local landscape. Currently on the lookout for enthusiastic new health walk leaders, the group hopes to become a shining example of how community development can become self-sustaining and continue long into the future.

As well as the various projects running throughout the year, the Healthy Lifestyles team organise a number of bigger events, drawing on larger audiences to raise awareness of food and health in the community and celebrate local industry. This summer has already seen huge success for the Fish Festival and Fete de Newhaven, with the up-coming Christmas Event on 10th December promising more community-spirited fun.

In short, Healthy Lifestyles is just one of the outstanding NCDA initiatives addressing the needs of the community by way of delivering a diverse range of projects, successfully involving the whole community in matters of food, health, physical activity and the environment.

For more information on Healthy lifestyles, email jenny.leon@ncda.org.uk  or call 01273 612539

You can also find information on the Community Garden on Facebook at: