Where it all began...
Back in July 2012 Mark and Jackie decided to give up their current jobs to go full time on the construction of the Light House (LH) in Woking. They started September 2012 and worked there until its completion in July 2014. In that time they made good relationships with the lost and homeless of the borough. They became part of the workforce in the construction of the LH as well as those from the church community and the corporate world. A large part of the LH was built from materials from reclaimed materials and those detained for landfill. It very much became a community project and is now a community centre.
Since leaving they went onto refurbish poor family's homes using the same group of people and helping charities with refurbishing their accommodation.
In December 2015 they agreed to work with Woking BC and DWP to allow the long term unemployed a chance to get back into a work opportunity at Brookwood Cemetery. They are currently refurbishing the 230 acre site. They have had successes with getting people back into full time work and the DWP are pleased with the results.
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Read how our lives have been changed for the better
The lorry made its way from Ottershaw, carrying a precious load of premium landscaping turf, a tough, top quality, hard-wearing turf, sourced by Mark Richmond, Director of Fresh Start.
Fresh Start is a community initiative which offers skills training to homeless clients while they give something back to the community. They began by refurbishing disadvantaged family's homes and charities' properties, and today runs community projects designed to support train and integrate homeless and long term unemployed team members, teaching them vital skills so that they get back into employment.
Walton Court Road - Garden Makeover Project
The lorry finally made a grand entrance into a quiet area close to Chobham, where Mark and his team were waiting outside the home of the family who had sent them an SOS, sorely in need of a garden makeover.
Soon, the turf was unloaded and work began. The team expertly made short work of the weeds in the overgrown garden, then they raked, cleared, and impressively levelled the soil by hand. Next, creatively using repurposing on site materials, they formed a new garden path and flower bed. Then they laid the turf, and added clusters of yellow, purple, orange and white with marigolds, daises, wallflowers, erysimum, and lavandula, planted in copious amounts of rich compost. Finally, leaving no stone unturned in their delivery, the team went off site, purchased some hosing materials , and gave the garden its first ever watering. The team even went beyond the project's remit, to improve the appearance of the property's frontage garden and fence.
A little bird confirmed that "transformed" and "oasis" are a few words that have been used to describe the new garden. It is beautiful, green and flourishing. The family is happy. The neighbours are happy, and the neighbourhood is enhanced. This transformational work is what Fresh Start thrives on delivering. And when aggregated, the day to day effect of this transformational nature work improves street scapes and town scapes, attracts people to live and work in previously derelict places and neighbourhoods, enhances the quality of people's lives, promotes physical and mental health, and boosts the productivity, economy and sustainability of towns and cities as a result. A town or city that is serous about building a sustainable and enduring economy must ensure that its core strategy includes the physical transformation of its disadvantaged areas.
The little bird also told me that "excellent" is one of Mark Richmond's favourite words. And I say, yes, excellent work Fresh Start! Well done and keep up the good work!
Polly Parker - Fresh Start Correspondent
"My time spent with Fresh Start was amazing!"
My time spent with Fresh Start was amazing. At the time of joining, my work situation was at a stand still & they allowed me to get back into the working mentality again, whilst gaining many transitional skills, team work, working to deadlines, etc. I even got my brush cutting qualification through them.
After 4 months with the company I manged to secure full time employment which I'm pleased to say is the start of my career. All of which wouldn't of happened if it wasn't for these guys.
"Always full of enthusiasm and ALWAYS smiling."
After working in construction for the last 12 years and working for several people, the work I have enjoyed the most is grafting with Mark. Whilst working with him, my anxiety issues that I suffer with completely disappeared. No problem is too big to overcome and he is always full of enthusiasm and ALWAYS smiling.
Both mark and Jackie deserve enormous respect. They played a huge part in changing my life for the better. If you let them, I'm sure they will do the same for you.
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