The Enfield Council funded garden in Monmouth Road is a permanent memorial and space for reflection. Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Cohesion at Enfield Council, Cllr Gina Needs, officially opened the garden that was witnessed by local people from the emergency services who worked in the borough during the pandemic, members of local community groups, bereaved residents and Council officers.The opening was also an opportunity to give thanks and to recognise the dedication and tireless work that NHS staff, Council and Voluntary Sector undertook during the pandemic, with staff from North Middlesex University Hospital and other representatives attending the ceremony.
Cllr Needs said: “We wanted to create a memorial garden to remember all those in the borough who sadly passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our wonderful colleagues who work in the NHS, Police and Fire Service, who risked their own lives to help others at a time of national crisis.
“The COVID-19 Memorial Garden will bring people together and the meaningful space will resonate with the whole community. I hope the garden will provide a permanent place that residents can visit to reflect and remember their loved ones that died too soon.”
The project began earlier this year when the Council sought an artist to create a sculptural steel ribbon, for a proposed memorial garden that would include planted and paved areas with seating.
The Council invited residents to meet the chosen artist, Rafael Klein, so they could provide input into the design of the sculptural ribbon during two public workshop sessions that were held at Edmonton Green Library in May.
Rafael also delivered several community workshops and engagement sessions with pupils at Hazelbury Primary and Kingsmead schools and older people at Sunbridge Care Home in Edmonton.
Pupils and older people were invited to explore their memories, experiences of and feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic in Enfield and produced words and images to express their thoughts.
The artwork weaves through two sections of the garden and incorporates residents’ stories, drawings and words from the workshops, memories and experiences of the pandemic; and carries their hopes for future.
Cllr Needs added: “As a borough we have much to be proud of in our response to the pandemic. Enfield Council worked with many organisations to coordinate efforts including a large-scale hub to deliver food and other supplies to thousands of Enfield residents and a mass vaccination centre at Dugdale Arts Centre.
“However, Enfield was hit hard by the pandemic. In the first wave, half of all deaths from coronavirus in the borough occurred in care homes. Many of us lost friends, neighbours, and family. This garden is an opportunity to not only remember those people but to look forward with resilience, strength and determination to the future.”
Artist Rafael Klein recorded a video on the inception of the idea of the sculptural ribbon and memorial garden: https://vimeo.com/850115533
Enfield Council’s review into the impact of COVID-19 and the government’s response to the pandemic can be found here (Item 4, page 111): https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/documents/g13855/Public%20reports%20pack%2021st-Mar-2022%2019.00%20Overview%20Scrutiny%20Committee.pdf?T=10