Knives, syringes, rival gangs and rubbish were once about the only things occupying an abandoned patch of Brockley.

Since then, the once infamous area of Frendsbury Road has become a community garden where everyone comes together.

Schoolchildren and even people with mental health issues all use the therapeutic space, which has been transformed by volunteers.

Nadine Hibbert, who was awarded a BEM in the New Year Honours list, is now leading a project to build an outdoor classroom on the site.

"Frendsbury Garden brings people together," Nadine, who works for the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism, told News Shopper.

"We have after-school activities where kids learn how to socialise.

News Shopper:

"They work on the garden and they learn about food. People from Telegraph Hill and Honor Oak Estate don’t generally mix, but in the garden they are safe.

"We don’t distinguish between the two groups."

Nadine added: "A lady from Ireland contacted our Facebook site to say her father was very isolated. He now comes down every Wednesday.

"We help people with mild mental health issues or are socially isolated. They either do some therapeutic gardening or just have a cup of tea and a talk."

Frendsbury Garden also runs events for Syrian refugees living nearby, and Polish families regularly meet at the garden to interact.

However, when it’s raining, there is no shelter, and work is now being done to rectify that.

Everyone is working pro bono to design a classroom, including Mace, which built the Shard.


Work on the £7,000 project begins in April or May, and Nadine is appealing for the community to help.

Lewisham Council also donated a huge £19,500 for the community project.

"Nobody needs building experience," Nadine said. "It is going to arrive flat-packed. We are looking for volunteers.

"Experts will oversee everything."

Nadine was awarded her BEM for her community work in Lewisham.

Speaking about the achievement, she said: "It such a positive feeling when you see the impact you can have on others by giving up just a few hours of my time.

"Whether that is assisting the grieving after the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower, serving food to the homeless over several years volunteering for Crisis at Christmas or running after-school activities for young people impacted by the tragic death of a local boy due to knife crime.

"I would like to thank my mother and her friends, all midwives, for instilling in me from an early age the importance of being caring and compassionate and trying to leave the world a better place whenever possible."