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Creating a rain garden

On 6th May, our Community Champions took part in an exclusive workshop with the London Wildlife Trust, as part of the Wandle Rain Gardens project.

This exciting project engages communities along the River Wandle to promote practical ways of becoming more climate change resilient in the face of increased risks of flooding and drought.

The Rain Gardens workshop, run by the London Wildlife Trust and headed by Joanna, was a fantastic introduction to ways in which we are able to help with reducing our impact on the water works within an urban community.” - Tash

The solution lies in turning our urban areas from grey to green and allowing soil to naturally soak up rainfall, and during the workshop, we explored how sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) can help to do just that…

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is just one way that could help slow down the process of rainwater entering our drains. The process is simple; divert the rain which comes off our rooftops into a garden designed with materials and plants which can absorb high quantities of water. The end product is a beautiful garden that also provides a habitat for urban wildlife and could even help to improve air quality

"As part of the wider Wandle Rain Gardens Project, we all had a chance to help build a rain garden at the South Mitcham community Centre. This was a great opportunity to put what we had learnt into practice. It was a great afternoon spent outdoors getting to know people and giving something back to the community in return.
Learning about the benefits of a rain garden from the London Wildlife Trust – and indeed what one of these actually was – was a huge eye-opener for me. I now feel able to share this knowledge with others and am looking forward to experiencing what else the Community Champions can achieve together with Sustainable Merton” - Steph

What is a green roof?

Our Community Champions also helped revive South Mitcham Community Centre’s green roof on top of their small shed, designed to catch rainwater and create new wildlife habitats in a place you might not have thought possible.

Green roofs act as a sponge, soaking up the rain and attracting important pollinators ad insects, which support the birds that rely on them. They also help to cool urban areas and increase both air and water quality!

“As my first team event as a Community Champion I had no idea what to expect. Joanna took things back to basic (great for the novice like me) and we discussed the water cycle and the human impact on this natural process.
It was interesting to hear just how significantly the effects of climate change are altering the cycle and how the London drainage system is struggling to cope with the increased frequency of short periods of intense, heavy rainfall often unfortunately resulting in sewage overflow.” – Steph

We learnt some incredible and terrifying facts about the impact of built up urban areas on the water cycle and also how to combat it; from making small changes in our lifestyles to bigger installations within our homes and communities.
I certainly feel I have adapted certain aspects of my lifestyle and also have been able to inform and educate friends and family to also consider their impact on water within our city, a subject which until this workshop I had never really thought about.” – Tash

A big thank you to the London Wildlife Trust team – Joanna, Helen and Michael for their expert training and guidance, and to Sarah (Living Wandle) for making the event happen (and the lovely photos!).


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