Grand Junction Green Kids Club

By Paul Windo

Earlier in the spring we spent some time with the children’s team at Grand Junction in Westbourne and experienced first-hand the impact funding from Grosvenor’s Greener Futures Fund is having on their weekly Green Kids Club.

Grand Junction – operated by the Paddington Development Trust - is a venue for arts, culture, and community, based at the historic St Mary Magdalene Church near Paddington. They offer an eclectic programme of music, arts, and heritage for young people, families, and adults – in the stunning setting of the Grade 1 listed church. We asked their Young People and Families Manager, Jo, to tell us more about Green Kids Club and the difference it is making.

Joanne Merritt-Hall - Young People and Families Manager, Grand Junction

“Westbourne has 2.9K living in multi-ethnic purpose-built estates and 2.1K deprived and ethnically diverse living in flats – most without private gardens. 49% of children living in Westbourne are on pupil premium, which is a rise from 33% in 2017. 43% of people in Westbourne are defined as being workless and 19% of households are deemed overcrowded. Green Kids Club provides brilliantly educational and engaging enrichment after school activities for children from local families who don’t have access to diverse gardens and outdoor spaces. Some are living in crowded housing and come from low-income families with limited means to pay for extra curricular activities.”

During our visit, the children (who are between 7 and 11 years old) enthusiastically took part in planting new trees, bushes and flowers in decorative planters outside the Grand Junction cafe and along the open borders around the Gothic Revival church building. The club has developed and diversified since it was conceived in 2022 - when discussing ways to explore eco education and activism while creating space for ongoing participatory green learning for the local children.

Members of Green Kids Club at Grand Junction

“Our weekly sessions are extremely diverse in content, with a wide variety of activities delivered. Making homemade bath bombs, candles, learning about essential oils and where they come from, making bird feeders, hedgehog houses, learning about weather and climate, bees and planting things in our local area. We also do one trip per term and have one visiting expert talk for the children each term. Last term we did a trip on a canal barge where they spotted birds and tried tree identification. This term we welcomed the award-winning wildlife cinematographer Sophie Darlington who has recently filmed the wildlife show Queens for Disney+!!”

The enthusiasm of the children attending is infectious, thanks in no small part to the way the Grand Junction staff team approach the sessions.

“Green Kids Club enables local children and families to spend more time outside, providing free quality enrichment education. The children are learning new concepts and experiencing new things every week and are always keen to recall the new discoveries they’ve made. We have one young learner who is ASD and she struggles at school, but excels at Green Kids Club because we have a large staff-to-child ratio so can support her to thrive. She also enjoys all of the hands-on, practical artistic and eco learning.”

Wildlife cinematographer, Sophie Darlington, visits Green Kids Club

There are several primary schools within a close radius of Grand Junction, with one right next door. The Greener Futures funding has enabled the team to offer school workshops for the local children. Jo and many other team members and volunteers have worked with almost 500 children across 9 workshops this year alone. The feedback from teachers has been extremely positive:

  • “What an enjoyable day - both workshops were equally impactful as the children learnt whilst being creative.”
  • “It’s really important that the children have different experiences that they normally wouldn’t get.”
  • “Multisensory experiences help children internalise knowledge. Storytelling and creative narratives were really useful ways to learn and explore ideas.”
One young learner, who struggles at school, excels at Green Kids Club...
Joanne Merritt-Hall, Green Kids Club

“The schools workshops are really important for us. We know that not all families can access after school clubs for various reasons. Some because their parents are unable to speak English. Some parents don’t know where to find clubs or value clubs and their impact. For some children, they could be young carers themselves. Working directly with schools ensures we are reaching all children and providing an exciting, artistic, eco-learning opportunity for everyone. Our after-school Green Kids Club is now part of our weekly offer for children and we are really proud to be making connections with other local organisations too. All this is making the green educational opportunities broader and allows us to offer it across more age groups and connect the dots within our local community – working together more.”

A young Green Kids Club member planting outside the venue

Jo recently had the opportunity to share more about Green Kids Club at Grosvenor’s ‘Greener Futures in Westminster’ event. The London Community Foundation manages Grosvenor’s Greener Futures Fund and the event was a great opportunity to hear from some of the organisations who received support.

“The Grosvenor event was a great opportunity to promote our work and network with other local and green focused organisations. Both Grosvenor and The London Community Foundation have continued to support us, including highlighting other funding opportunities. We really hope to maintain these relationships with both partners in the future.”

Organisations like Paddington Development Trust and Grand Junction are making a lasting impact in the communities they support. The hard work and commitment they put in really pays off when it comes to seeing tangible change take place.

“Smaller organisations, like us, often have better connections and ongoing relationships with local people. We spend a lot of time building up trust, engaging hard to reach people, attending local sessions and networking events to promote our work. Our service users know we are investing in local people – we work with lots of volunteers training them up to be community champions and spread messages of health, environmentalism and more. We are actively working with the local council to make Westbourne a greener and healthier place to live. We have become one of the vehicles to ensure local people are kept informed about local plans and providing important opportunities for local people to have their say about what happens in their neighbourhood.”

Jo, sharing about Green Kids Club at the Grosvenor event

If you would like to know more about the work Grosvenor does to make Westminster a greener and healthier community, please visit our partner pages.

If you or the company you work for would like to know more about how you can strengthen local communities and invest in local community organisations like Paddington Development Trust and Grand Junction, please contact Laura Perkins or Harbi Jama to find out more about making a difference in London. Where it matters most.