Growing Together at Chiswick House & Gardens

Earlier this year we shared the fantastic news that we had been awarded funding from the Linbury Trust in order to launch our new community engagement programme. We are now delighted to welcome Harvinder Kaur Bahra who will be heading up this project.

Tell us a little bit about your role here at Chiswick House & Gardens

I’m the new Community Participation Manager at Chiswick House & Gardens Trust. An exciting new role focused on developing Growing Together at Chiswick House our new community programme. I will be creating an inclusive and accessible programme, in partnership with local community groups and schools. The programme aims to support access to the gardens, encouraging groups to come together to learn about nature, gain skills, grow plants, build confidence and inspire wellbeing. All set in the beautiful safe space of the Kitchen Garden and developed through a variety of horticultural and creative activities.

We hope this programme builds and enriches partnerships with local community groups and schools in Hounslow and West London. We want to reach local audiences who are underrepresented and/or face social, economic, emotional and physical barriers to engaging with organisations like ours. I will be working closely with community leaders, exploring ways we can work together through co-developed projects that respond to local interests, enhance wellbeing through nature, and importantly create a sense of belonging.

Image: Harvinder enjoying the Gardens, before she worked here!

What do you love about your job?

I love seeing the journey community groups go on, from being non visitors, to visiting with support to becoming regular visitors, visiting with confidence and a sense of belonging. This can transform local relationships, when you stop being just a venue but become a genuine collaborative community partner. I’ve enjoyed seeing this with groups like Crisis, Mind, Age UK, Stroke Association and many other groups I’ve collaborated with in the past.

What do you love about Chiswick House and Gardens?

Having lived in Hounslow for over 30 years, I care deeply that important cultural institutions like Chiswick House & Gardens play an active role in society to bring about positive impacts in their community. Hounslow is a borough rich in heritage and cultural diversity, but where inequalities still impact people’s lives and their confidence to engage with these green spaces. I know how visiting Chiswick House & Gardens enriches my own life, providing me with cherished experiences and a deep appreciation for the outdoors. I hope I can do the same for others at Chiswick House & Gardens.

How did you get into this area of work?

I’ve worked in heritage and community engagement for over 15 years (at Kew Gardens, the British Museum and Tate), supporting local communities to explore and find connections between places of heritage, nature and their own lives. I‘ve led numerous creative programmes with and for local audiences with complex barriers to engagement, helping to raise confidence, gain skills and improve wellbeing. Supporting diverse local audiences, particularly those who are under-represented, to engage with heritage, culture and nature in ways that has meaning and relevance for them – and I hope to do the same at Chiswick House & Gardens.

How do people get in touch if they have a community engagement idea or want to join a group?

If you would like to find out more about Growing Together at Chiswick House, to tell us about your community group or to discuss a collaborative project, please email us at: community@chgt.org.uk