Gardens & wildlife

It is Your Neighbourhood-information-pack

What is “It’s Your Neighbourhood”

Who can enter?

What kinds of projects do “It’s Your Neighbourhood” groups do?

What are the benefits of participation?

How does a group get started in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood?

What should an “It’s Your Neighbourhood” group focus on when planning its project/work?

What support is available for registered groups?

Additional online resources

What is RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood?

The Royal Horticultural Society’s RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign provides an opportunity to smaller community groups to get involved in the wider Britain in Bloom initiative.

It’s a unique scheme for volunteer-led community gardening groups which are focused on cleaning up and greening up their local area, whether that’s the estate where they live, a shared residential alleyway, or the local community centre’s outdoor space.

RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood is an inclusive, non-competitive scheme, which welcomes groups of all kinds, as long as they fit the criteria outlined under “Who can enter?” There is no charge to participate.

The scheme aims to bring members of the community together to make a positive change to the place they live, work or spend their leisure time. Groups participating in the campaign are asked to focus on its three core pillars of:

  • Community Participation
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Gardening Achievement

While the participating groups are not judged against each other, they are visited by environmental, horticultural and community development ‘in Bloom’ experts (our assessors), who provide valuable feedback on how to develop current activities and encourage on-going improvements. Based on the visit, each community will receive an RHS certificate of achievement reflecting how well participants have met the RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood aims as included in the three core pillars. There are five levels of achievement in the campaign - Establishing, Improving, Developing, Thriving and Outstanding - and groups who have done consistently well over time may be nominated to receive the RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood National Certificate of Distinction.

Who can enter?

RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood is open to groups of all sizes and with a variety of projects, as long as they are focused on cleaning up and greening their local area and as long as they are:

  • A group
  • Hands on
  • Involved in community gardening
  • Representative of the community and/or getting input from the community
  • Benefiting the community
  • Volunteer-led
  • Sustainable over time
  • Owned by the community and the community takes responsibility for the work.

Some examples of RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups are:

  • A residents’ group/association
  • A park Friends group
  • A group of neighbours
  • A community allotment/ garden.

What kinds of projects do RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups do?

The projects that RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups do will be entirely decided by the local situation. The group will choose their project based on the local environmental needs and what might benefit their community. These will be the most important considerations when deciding on a project.

Some examples of what RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups have done are:

  • Restoring a churchyard
  • Converting disused space into useable green space
  • Taking over the improvement and maintenance of green spaces on their estate
  • Transforming a back alley from a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour into a community gathering space and garden
  • Adopting a square, roundabout or brownfield space and renovating it
  • Redeveloping all the front gardens on (part of) a street using any number of schemes (hanging baskets, window boxes for growing herbs etc.)
  • Forming a Friends group to look after (part of) the local park Uniting local retailers to transform the high street/shopping area.

What are the benefits of participation?

By participating in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood your community will benefit from:

  • Cleaner and greener surroundings
  • Developing a sense of community and creating positive interaction between community members
  • Safer environments for the enjoyment of local people Reduction in anti-social behaviour
  • Increased local pride as people take ownership of the improvements to the area
  • Positive effects on the local economy
  • Helping the environment, through recycling, energy conservation, reducing litter, improving/adding green spaces and other sustainable practices
  • Building relationships with the local authority.

If you would like to learn more about how participating communities have benefited from taking part, please visit www.rhs.org.uk/itsyourneighbourhood to read the case studies.

How does a group get started in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood?

Step 1: Establish a group - Form a group and decide on a name for your group (e.g. Kingston Road Community Garden). You don’t have to sign up all potential volunteers and/or members, but you should at least have some key players to get you started.

Step 2: Identify a project - What is your group going to do? Please bear in mind that even though the final aim of your project may be quite ambitious (e.g. creating a community garden from a derelict, neglected plot of land) it is not an expectation that you complete the project in the first year or even the first three years. Assessors don’t expect to see only finished projects, they also look to help guide you along the way and help you to see how you might develop a project further.

Step 3: Register - Contact your nation/region “in Bloom” co-ordinator (see contact details on welcome letter) and get registered. There is no charge to participate or for any of the support outlined in this pack.

That’s it! Getting started in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

What should an RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood group focus on when planning its project/work?

Everyone taking part in RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood should focus on the three core pillars of the campaign, which are:

  • Community Participation
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Gardening Achievement

These core pillars are listed here in order of importance and form the basis for how each group’s achievements will be assessed. Community Participation is worth 40% and Environmental Responsibility and Gardening Achievement are each worth 30% of the final score.

When deciding your goals you should consider whether these are realistic and manageable and whether the work ties in with the core pillars. If you are a newly formed group, your first set of goals may relate to things such as forming a group, deciding on a project, consulting with the wider community and so on.

Then, as the work of the group progresses, so should the goals, with the focus changing from initial ideas and planning, to delivering actual results. And please don’t forget that RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups have access to a variety of resources to support them (outlined on the next page). We strongly recommend groups make use of these resources.

What support is available for registered groups?

All RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups receive the following support from the RHS, completely free of charge:

  • Recognition for your achievements
  • An online support hub for participants, with advice about finding funding, recruiting volunteers etc
  • The opportunity to draw on the experiences of other local communities through a strong Britain in Bloom network
  • Access to a network of 2,800 local gardening clubs and horticultural societies which can offer their support and expertise
  • A quarterly community gardening review magazine, Grass Roots Free access to expert RHS horticultural advisors

Plus the following resources are available on the RHS website:

Additional online resources

RHS Communities
Information and ideas about how to develop your activities; case studies of other groups and useful contact details / resources

RHS Plant Selector
Helps you to find appropriate plants for your area and needs

RHS Plant Finder
Tells you where you can buy a plant

RHS Perfect for Pollinators
Find out which plants are best for pollinating insects

RHS Grow your Own
Growing vegetables

Wildlife gardening
Or have a look at our site in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts:

Advice by topic of choice (e.g. soil and composting, pests and diseases etc.)

Sustainable gardening

Gardening events

What to do in your garden this month

In addition, RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood groups have access to valuable support from their region/nation organisers, such as:

  • Access to advice and guidance from your region/nation co-ordinators and assessors
  • Access to seminars organised by your region/nation
  • A report with helpful and constructive feedback provided after the visit from your local assessor.
This page was last updated by Ted on 06-Nov-2014
(registered users can amend this page)