Shepherd's Bush Man Hopes His Neighbours Can Grow Together

Inspired by the Eden Project Community Camp to try to tackle isolation

75-year-old Mutthu Karappan hopes to see community spirit in full bloom
75-year-old Mutthu Karappan hopes to see community spirit in full bloom

A man from Shepherd’s Bush is aiming to reduce loneliness and isolation in his locality by setting up a gardening scheme to support his elderly neighbours to connect and start growing their own food

75-year-old Mutthu Karappan hopes to see community spirit in full bloom after being inspired to take his passion for plants to the next level at an Eden Project Community Camp.

Mutthu, who attended Community Camp in March 2021, said, “I spend a lot of time in my community and volunteer for a befriending scheme, so I know that a lot of older people are bored and lonely, especially since the pandemic started. I also love gardening and have always grown as much fruit and vegetables as I can, so I’m hoping to start producing my own seeds and motivating others to get outside, come together and start growing their own food.”

He is calling on other people to follow in his footsteps and see what they could achieve by attending a virtual version of the community camp designed to support anyone who wants to do positive things where they live.

Since moving to the UK from Malaysia over 20 years ago, Mutthu has always been an active member of his community. After spending the last two decades developing his knowledge of subjects including community leadership and gardening in deprived areas, and taking part in befriending schemes, recycling projects and digital exclusion courses, Mutthu was keen to branch out on a community project of his own.

Spurred on by the isolation seen during the height of the pandemic, Mutthu attended an Eden Project Community Camp. He’s now establishing a project combining his love for gardening and community connections by supplying hand-produced seeds to his neighbours and sharing his expertise during gardening lessons for small groups.

Mutthu said: “Going to Community Camp was really useful, and everyone was so enthusiastic about my ideas! It was great to make connections – you can’t do everything alone and it’s so important to pass on your skills and knowledge. I’m already looking into producing my own seeds and hope to start spreading the word at a community fair coming up soon.”

Research undertaken by Eden Project Communities earlier this year revealed that people wanted to be more involved where they live during the pandemic, with nearly half of people (45%) saying they want to do more for their local community than they currently do.

Eden Project’s Community Camp organisers, who recognise that the surge in community spirit seen at the start of the pandemic is receding, are keen to support people who now see the value of neighbourliness and want to do more.

Community Camp takes place on 1-2 October and is open to anyone starting out in their community journey. Complete with interactive sessions, practical activities, networking opportunities and speakers, the free two-day online learning experience aims to provide a valuable foundation for people looking to explore their potential to make a positive difference where they live.

Attendees will have the chance to cover topics such as confidence building, recognising and growing skillsets, connecting with local networks and identifying resources, as well as meeting and sharing ideas with likeminded people, with whom they have the potential to form a lasting peer network.

Tracey Robbins, Head of Eden Project Communities UK Delivery, said, “Mutthu is just one of the 1600 community minded people who have been inspired to start more than 1000 initiatives at our camps over the years. He’s testament to the idea that anyone can support their community to thrive just by taking that all-important first step of exploring their ideas.

“For many of us around the country, the pandemic resulted in more time spent with our neighbours and local communities than ever before, but we also found ourselves lonelier and more isolated. That’s why we’re keen to welcome to camp people who want to begin to grow the connections they’ve made, whether that’s meant hosting online coffee mornings during the pandemic, setting up a neighbourhood contact group, or even taking part in your first Big Lunch.”

Community Camp is an idea from Eden Project Communities, who also run The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual big date to celebrate and give thanks to our neighbours and communities. Started in 2009, it’s an idea from the Eden Project that each year brings 6 million people together, made possible by The National Lottery and supported by Iceland and The Food Warehouse. In 2022, The Big Lunch will be part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

For more information on how to sign up for Community Camp visit:

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August 30, 2021