Start of work on Dingle playground

From Russia with Love

Siberian supermodel Natalia Vodianova is helping to pay for a new playground for children in Liverpool’s Dingle area to enjoy.

Natalia created her charity, The Naked Heart Foundation, because she had nowhere to play as a child and while they have funded playgrounds across Russia, this is one of their first in the UK.

Two representatives from Naked Heart, Oxana Medvedeva and Genia Mineeva, will be visiting the site before work starts on the new playground on Northumberland Street in Dingle on Monday, 14 January.

Local ward councillor Hetty Wood explained: “Dingle desperately needed a new playground so when we heard about this Russian charity, we got in touch. It’s certainly unusual for a scheme like this to be funded from somewhere like Russia and we are extremely grateful for their £50k contribution to the new playground scheme.

“The scheme is also receiving funding from the Morgan Foundation, Plus Dane Housing and Liverpool City Council while The Flanagan Group, contractor for the playground, is working at cost. We would like to thank everyone who is helping with this much needed safe place to play for the children of Dingle.”

The playground, costing just over £100k in total, has been designed by local children and should be ready for them to enjoy in the Easter holidays. It also includes a sports area for five-a-side football and netball, and mini allotments for the children to grow flowers and vegetables.

The scheme has been developed with local voluntary group Southern Neighbourhood Council, (SNC), who run a community centre on the site next door to the new playground.

Frances Jones, Project Manager for SNC, said: “We’ve been trying to get a new safe, quality play area here for a long time as the kids really need it. The support we’ve been given by the City Council, by SNC volunteers, the Naked Heart and Morgan Foundations, has been overwhelming.

“Lots of other businesses and local people have given their time and donations so it’s been a real community effort and the benefits to the children in the area will be enormous.”

Natalia Vodianova is one of the world’s most successful supermodels. She has appeared on the cover of Vogue several times and featured in over 175 runway shows. She founded the Naked Heart Foundation to create a safe and inspiring play environment for every child living in urban Russia after growing up with a sister with cerebral palsy and now with three children of her own.

She is now spreading that mission around the world with Liverpool’s Dingle leading the way. In 2010 Natalia was named Harper’s Bazaar Inspiration of the Year in honour of her philanthropic activities.

City Council cabinet member Steve Munby said: “This is a much needed community resource for the children of Dingle and it is certainly one of the more unusual funding packages! I’d like to thank all the amazing volunteers who have worked so hard for many years in Dingle to help the children to grow and develop.

“The creation of this new playground is a testament to their hard work and to the generosity of organisations like The Morgan Foundation, Plus Dane Housing and The Flanagan Group.

“We are looking forward to welcoming our Russian visitors and we hope that Natalia also has the opportunity to visit the new playground when it opens at Easter later this year.”

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