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Why join the family of It’s Your Neighbourhood?

A blog post by Catherine Lawson

Bonnie Dundee IYN has been a member of Keep Scotland Beautiful’s It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) initiative for over 10 years and we would encourage every group, however small, to join in too. The IYN ‘family’ is full of like-minded people who want to make a difference and enhance their local environment for both residents and visitors alike, plus are all full of great ideas and inspiration.

IYN areas looked after by Bonnie Dundee

As a group we plant and maintain 38 planters of various sizes and two garden areas in the centre of Dundee and our work feeds into the city’s wider Beautiful Scotland entry. Over the years we have benefited from the invaluable support, advice, promotion, and resources on offer from Keep Scotland Beautiful, even the smallest queries are answered (thank you Juliette Camburn!). We also have a good relationship with Dundee City Council who help with support, advice, publicity to raise our profile, and practical things like compost. So, we’d encourage all groups to make the most of Keep Scotland Beautiful and any support available from their local council, to help develop their project and reach more people in the local community.

Providing plants, seeds, compost, etc. always involves a cost, but KSB’s newsletters and Zoom sessions are a great way to find out about funding sources and grants, how to fill in the forms if help is needed, and share fundraising ideas such as plant sales, donation buckets, or events. It is so helpful to know about tried and tested methods used by other groups. Also, being linked to a Keep Scotland Beautiful initiative helps add weight to grant applications and asking for donations.

We feel, being part of IYN provides us with extra enthusiasm and sense of purpose, as well as a structure to work to. We all love gardening and being outside, but on a grey, dark, damp morning it would be easy to stay in bed, but the purpose and sense of community provides the push that’s needed!  IYN membership opens a whole new world with online bulletins, Q&A sessions, meetings, and access to all Scotland’s groups via social media or meeting in person at the annual award ceremony in Stirling, although this has been virtual during the pandemic. It also helps us link up with other IYN groups in our area to share ideas, seeds, bulbs, and even volunteers when there is a bigger task to get done.

Members of the group at the polytunnel
Year of Coasts and Waters Planting

Each year Keep Scotland Beautiful suggests an optional theme which is open to interpretation, some groups always manage something completely out of the box! The theme helps us with inspiration for our plant and colour selection and provides a common goal to work towards. Pictured is one of our planters for the Year of Coasts & Waters (one of the optional themes in 2022 and 2021), with silvery leaves depicting our ‘silvery Tay’ and blues and purples for the evening hues of the water, the yellow is always for sunshine and ‘Sunny Dundee’. As we often find new plants when researching the theme, it also increases our knowledge on which is the best plant for the job, and as we so often say . . . every day is a school day!

We’re encouraged to practice climate friendly gardening too; helpful tips and websites are provided by Keep Scotland Beautiful to make it easier, and other groups share many ideas through Keep Scotland Beautiful’s newsletters and virtual sessions. This has proved invaluable as we develop our pollinator themed projects, plant for pollinators, and ask the public to give it a go too.

We’re also encouraged to take part in other initiatives e.g. organising litter picks which we do in our local area and we’ll be supporting  Spring Clean 2022 this year.

IYN groups are visited by an experienced volunteer assessor each year, we usually aim for mid-August, but don’t be put off by this as it’s a friendly visit and all the assessors are lovely! It’s an opportunity to show what we have achieved and what worked well, discuss difficulties we have had, and in turn receive suggestions, ideas, and helpful advice from experts. Every group receives a certificate and feedback sheet, admittedly it is nice to have recognition for all the work done throughout the year.

We also reward ourselves, with a nearby ice cream parlour coming in handy…but that reward can’t be put on display!

We engage in some lovely conversations with passers-by, when we explain how we’re part of a network of groups linked in Dundee and all across Scotland. It is rewarding to feel part of something which is happening Scotland-wide, bringing communities together, and delivering projects which are increasingly important in a changing climate.

Ice cream reward

To us, being part of the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ family is good for us, our health and well-being, the environment, residents, visitors, and the whole community, so why not give it a try too?

If you have been inspired by what Catherine has had to say why not consider registering your group for It's Your Neighbourhood.  Participation is free and registration is open until 30 April 2022.  If you'd like to find out more about what it involves to contact Juliette who can tell you more about what support we offer and the benefits of joining the network.

We support the