A NEW project looking to bring Penhill’s community together launched yesterday.

The Penhill Haven Project will see volunteers and young offenders trying to turn their lives around, working on a garden behind John Moulton Hall, in Penhill Drive.

Flowers will be planted at the site with organisers hoping it will increase the butterfly and bee population and be something which Penhill’s residents can take pride in.

Glynis Hales, who is overseeing the project, said: “It has taken three years to get to this point and I’m very proud. The idea is for the community to come together and take ownership of this land looking after it and learning about nature. This is also a great opportunity for young offenders to do something worthwhile.”

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson came to the launch to show his support to the project.

He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Penhill to do something really rewarding which has an environmental impact.”

Some of the scheme’s funding came from Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, and Shirley Ludford, manager of Swindon 105.5 community radio station.

She will be working with some of the young people taking part in the project and giving them the opportunity to report on progress of the garden work.

Shirley said: “I think this is a great opportunity for the young offenders to make the right headlines. I’m hoping that the young people will learn a lot from the project and I’m looking forward to giving them an opportunity to work on it and report about what they are doing.”

The project is also welcoming volunteers of all ages and will also include a memorial in honour of those from Penhill who have died of drug or alcohol dependency.

Coinciding with the start of the scheme John Moulton Hall hosted a Big Lunch event. It is part of a national scheme encouraging communities to work together.

Visitors were asked to bring food or drink which they could share at the party. Activities at the event included games, craftwork stalls, a Wii tournament and table tennis amongst others.

Satnam Bains, manager of charity Clivey and Twist, based at the centre, said: “Today is all about ownership. If we show people how important the hall is to the community, through events like these, then people might be less inclined to vandalise and abuse it.”

l Anyone wishing to be part of the Penhill Haven Project can call 07975 854866.