Merseyside’s “Time Team” Make a Difference

As part of a national ‘Make a Difference Day’ campaign, Business in the Community on Greater Merseyside organised a site cleanup, bringing together local housing trusts and associations, their clients and their employees, sub contractors and local community groups.

The team’s challenge was to transform the old Jewish Cemetary in Kensington. Hidden behind a grade 2 listed crumbling entrance in Deane Road the Cemetery, opened in 1837, is the resting place for some of the most influential Victorians who shaped the city of Liverpool.

The cemetery gradually filled and the last recorded burial there took place in 1929 and when the integral buildings were the demolished in the early 1950′s and, as the place was then in a poor state of neglect, it was abandoned to nature.

In the past few years a dedicated band of activists has taken the first steps to reopen this forgotten piece of the city’s heritage and, in advance of a forthcoming lottery bid inspection, we were collectively delighted to have the chance to give our help to the project.

Volunteers, materials, tools and transport were provided by Riverside Housing, Morrison’s Facilities, Liverpool Housing Trust and Adullam Homes. The welcome assistance of a strong team from Merseyside Police’s local community police team and help from local activists completed the picture with about 50 volunteers taking action throughout the clean up.

Extensive site clearance of rubbish and undergrowth was achieved giving the place a well needed spruce up prior to the funding inspection. The forecourt gardens were weeded and turned over, the entrance courtyard tidied up and cleared of weeds and rubble and extensive work on clearing the graves from brambles and long grass undertaken. The team were particularly pleased that they were able to uncover previously ‘lost’ headstones and reveal some of the many interesting stories that surround those at rest in the burial ground.

The driving force behind the restoration plan, Saul Marks, who also is an historian and geologist [that should read genealogist! - Ed], said: “Our clean-up day on 12 November was a great success. Business in the Community arranged for personnel from several agencies to come together to make a real difference in our bid for Lottery funding.

“Without this hard work we would never have been able to make the cemetery so respectable for the HLF visit later this month. All who participated had an enjoyable time and we look forward to working with the various organisations in the future.”

Janet Taylor, Area Manager at Adullam Homes said: “Make a Difference Day was an opportunity to engage staff and service users in doing something positive within the community. For our service users, they achieved that feeling of wellbeing that being outdoors, doing something different and getting positive praise for your efforts brings.

“One of our service users told me that he felt peaceful and unstressed all day – that can only have a positive impact on his personal health and wellbeing. Our service users have asked if they can go back to the site to do more work, so hopefully we can arrange some regular volunteering for them. Seeing the history of the site uncovered in front of my eyes was an added bonus, and made me forget how tired I felt.”