Main image: Storm Griffin (7), with mum Liz, her brother O’reasha (10) and her five-year-old niece Porcha.
A Knowle West girl can now safely play in her back garden – after the community came together to help clear it and donate money and play equipment.
Storm, who will be eight this month, has been happily using her new swing, slide and tunnel this week – in a garden which has been made secure and accessible for her.
Single mum Liz Griffin (47), who has three of her 10 children still living at home, and is a part-time dinner lady, has been overwhelmed by the kindness of local people and all those who have donated.
She says it all started when she bumped into Nick Haskins, who is also Chair of Melvin Square Residents Group, while shopping at Imperial Park.
She explains: “I met him at B and M and asked if he knew anyone who could do cheap gardens, I had Storm with me and I said I wanted a nice garden for her, because the grass and hedges were high. He said to give him a couple of days because she had ‘melted his heart.’
“Storm has Downs Syndrome, she has to wear hearing aids and glasses and we are trying to get her diagnosed for ADHD and autism because of difficult behaviour…
“I’ve lived there 11 years, but the garden is hard to maintain when you are a single mum and you’ve got no help from family. I took her to parks but they are not very good round here because of glass or needles – so we were housebound.”
Nick said Storm had been “playing on his mind” and he was determined to help the little girl. He says when she went out to public playgrounds she was often teased by other children for being different.
He explains: “She had the garden but it was overgrown and her mum couldn’t do it herself because she was constantly watching Storm. I thought I’d put it on Facebook to see if anyone was willing to help and it just took off from there. I went with GoFundMe and put a target of £1,500…”
The first two donations of £100 and £500 were given anonymously – and the response was overwhelming, with people also contacting Nick with gifts of equipment for Storm.
The total of £1,331 raised has paid for a fence to secure the garden and concrete for the posts – as well as stones for the path, decking and a trampoline which is arriving shortly. Local people donated a tunnel, swing and slide and Tesco a garden swimming pool which will be set up for Storm’s birthday party on 21 August.
Storm will also be getting a sandpit and a wooden swing, given by family members – so she will now have her own playground at home.
Nick also organised a team of local people to come and help clear the overgrown garden to transform it into a safe play area.
He says: “It was a joint effort, I would say about 12 people came along to help with the grass, hedges, fence and pebbles.
“I’m glad to be able to help the family and it’s absolutely amazing, I can’t thank people enough and for everybody to work together for one goal – it was fantastic…”
Liz says: “It’s amazing, she doesn’t have to go anywhere. She’s not housebound and can get out and she’s much happier. I’m so grateful to everyone who donated and for Nick and everyone for the help…”
Storm as she played contentedly in her garden this week with her five-year-old niece Porcha said: “It’s great, I like all of it!”
To view the fundraiser visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/up-knowle-west