The Phoenix Garden Blooms

03 November 2016

The Phoenix Garden in the West End gets over 400 visitors every lunchtime during the summer. It provides a valuable habitat for a number of species, such as frogs and stag beetles, not found elsewhere in Soho or Covent Garden.

To fund improvements including a new community building, the Phoenix Garden charity ran a crowdfunding campaign in Round 3 of the Mayor's Civic Crowdfunding Programme. The Mayor pledged £10,000 and was joined by 188 other backers who helped the project reach its full fundraising target of £18,683 on 31st August 2016.

Michael Ryley from the Phoenix Garden charity explains more:

Tell us about your organisation and its key aims

We are the Phoenix Garden. We are a small charity that maintains a community garden in Covent Garden.  We receive no council funding, relying instead on donations, grants, and now crowdfunding, to continue our work. We work to provide habitat for wildlife in the West End of London, and green spaces for local residents and visitors.  We are an award winning ecological garden, operating on sustainable principles - no green waste leaves our site, and we use minimal water, planting instead to benefit native wildlife, and making the most from London's natural climate.

What is your project, why is it important and how will it help people in your area?

The Phoenix Garden Blooms represents the final stage of a huge investment in time, effort and fundraising by trustees and volunteers over the last few years of the Phoenix Garden's history.  We are about to finish construction of a new community building, and the work is crucial in integrating this new space with the rest of our garden spaces. Not only will accessibility be improved for DDA and elderly users, but also the appearance of the garden will be greatly enhanced by renewed planting and landscaping. Renewed planting will also benefit our many species of wildlife including birds, several types of bee, and the West End's only population of frogs! New amenities in the form of benches and paths will help to create an inviting space for new and returning garden visitors.  And finally the charity that runs the garden will benefit from the revenues generated from hires of this dramatically improved space - a key step in our journey towards financial sustainability - a vital goal for any charity!

What’s your best experience of the Mayor’s crowdfunding pilot been so far?

The Mayor's Crowdfunding Pilot and the Spacehive crowdfunding process has been hard work, and a steep learning curve, but ultimately very rewarding. A highlight is hard to narrow down - it may sound corny but for us each pledge was a highlight!  But if we had to choose one it would have to be the pitch event at City Hall where we got the chance to pitch to a group of our peers.  It really helped us to feel part of a likeminded group with a common goal, something you often forget when you're a volunteer fundraiser, filling out application forms late at night!  It was gratifying to be part of such a great selection of causes, and as for receiving the top up pledge from the Mayor, we are just so happy to have had this validation from the GLA for our appeal - and it gives us even more cause to do the best we can to honour our commitment to our supporters from our local community and beyond.

Why, when and how do people pledge to you? 

With the Mayor's programme the when and how were easy - our appeal ran until August 31, so anyone wanting to pledge had to do so before then. However if you still want to donate, you can donate directly to the garden, either via the paypal link at our website, or by emailing [email protected].

Why people should pledge is a threefold answer.  People should pledge to The Phoenix Garden Blooms if they want a chance to help a very small charity in Central London achieve a landmark goal in its history. People should pledge if they want to help support a rare piece of habitat for local native wildlife in Central London. And finally, as the garden is open to all, people should pledge so that they can help improve a valuable public green space that they themselves may visit someday, and take pride in the knowledge that they've played an important part in its upkeep and continued operation.  

Is there anything specific you need in-kind?

This project is very construction-heavy, so building materials would be welcome, and also small-scale earth moving/crushing/flattening equipment.  

Do you have any public events or media appearances?

On September 10 from 12-6pm we hosted our annual Phoenix Garden Agricultural Show in St. Giles Churchyard, right by the Phoenix Garden. It's a traditional village-style 'County Show' in the heart of the West End, for all ages, and attractions will include rare breed farm animals, Morris dancers, a brass band, Punch and Judy, and a host of stalls from the local community and beyond. We also celebrated the success of this appeal!

Are there any other ways people can meet you face-to-face or help you?

We are always happy to meet with people who want to volunteer with us. The best way is to email us on [email protected], or contact us via our Facebook page, and one of our committee will reply to you.

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