Josie Browne was Chair of the Salford Disability Forum from 2003 and actively campaigned for rights for disabled people all her life. Sadly Josie passed away in August 2015.
In 2012 Josie masterminded the brave move for the Forum to take over the running of the Princes Park Garden Centre from Salford City Council. The council had operated the garden centre as a training centre for people with learning difficulties for 28 years.
Josie wanted to broaden this offer to all people with disabilities and also ultimately include other groups, including;
- people with physical and sensory impairments;
- people with mental health problems;
- people receiving benefits and people who have been unemployed for a long time;
- ex-offenders and people at risk of re-offending;
- older and younger people and;
- people new to the area who may feel isolated
There were also plans to develop and enhance the garden centre buildings and café to provide a community hub, which all members of the community could use.
This was an ambitious business plan but Josie was determined that these goals were achieved.
Josie's vision was to make the Princes Park Garden Centre all about inclusion and ensuring that everyone has a voice. She wanted to educate the world (starting with Salford!) about disability, to ensure that everyone has equal chances in life.
We are working towards realising Josie's vision and are planning to establish a community hub where everyone will be welcome, where people can come together, make friends, improve their self confidence, learn new skills and improve their health and well-being.
It was agreed that the Princes Park Garden Centre should be a separate entity from the Salford Disability Forum and the Ability Co-operative, a social enterprise which would manage the garden centre, was established.
The Ability Co-operative together with staff and volunteers at the Princes Park Garden Centre are working hard to ensure that Josie's ambitious vision is realised.