COMMUNITY gardens, patios and play areas across Halton are being given a new lease of life thanks to Mersey Gateway team's Time Bank initiative.

The work is a way for Merseyflow, the Mersey Gateway Bridge tolling operator and Merseylink to demonstrate their commitment to the local area by providing practical help and support to schools, colleges, charities, and community groups.

It involves members of the Merseyflow and Merseylink teams reviving gardens, patios and play areas for charities across the community, including the Warrington & Halton Hospitals’ Charity, Westfield Community Playgroup and LOOSE Charity.

Warrington & Halton Hospitals' Charity raises funds for additional comforts, care or experiences for patients and their families beyond that which the NHS provides.

The project for WHH Charity involves members of the merseyflow and Merseylink teams reviving gardens around Halton Hospital, with the addition of brightly-painted furniture, beautiful birdhouses and blooming flowers.

Helen Higginson, head of fundraising at The Warrington & Halton Hospitals' Charity, said: "The project is hugely beneficial for our patients and their families.

"By creating fabulous gardens to enjoy, our patients can feel more at home. We’re incredibly grateful for all of our project volunteers who are giving up their time to take on the challenge."

Westfield Community Playgroup, which is used by children aged two to five years, also welcomed the team's enthusiasm to revitalise its play areas with a new wooden kitchen, sandpit sunshade, outdoor tap, concrete flags and a fresh new look for their play equipment.

Patricia Anderson, manager of Westfield Community Playgroup, said: "We would like to thank the Mersey Gateway team for all they have done for us through the Time Bank initiative.

"By helping us to enhance these areas the children who use the playgroup will enjoy many hours of quality play and learning."

Loose, a registered charity in Widnes, runs The Studio which gives the community access to theatre, music and creative arts.

A wide range of local people use the facilities, including people with mental health issues or learning disabilities. The Mersey Gateway team renovated a small area of land at the rear of The Studio, which now features an attractive garden for service users to enjoy.

Louise Nulty, studio project manager at Loose charity, said: "To have the support of Time Bank to transform our back space into a welcoming, attractive haven is fantastic.

"It has rewarded and inspired volunteers of all ages - one volunteer has even bought a pizza oven for the area!

"The revived area lifts everyone who attends, especially those who have seen it over many years.

"They can't believe the change and the fact that it is now a useable and beautiful place for our visitors."

The team has provided hundreds of hours of volunteering and over 50 volunteers for the initiative throughout 2019.

Karen Atherton, network steward at Merseylink, said: "We look forward to welcoming even more projects on board in the new year, when we relaunch the Time Bank application scheme for 2020.”

Beatriz Fuentes, Head of HR at Merseyflow, said: "Getting involved in the community challenges has brought our team together and provided the opportunity to engage with volunteers.”