Scotswood Natural Community Garden

"We work as a team; we cut the grass and do the weeding and planting. You get to meet and help people. I love it when we have open days; they're especially happy days for me. When you come here, it feels good to get out and get some fresh air."

North East

Charity Location

£100,000

Grant Size

3 Years

Funding Period

Our Partnership

Where did it all begin?

In the West End of Newcastle in 1995 Scotswood Natural Community Garden was established. The garden covers more than two acres and offers an urban pocket of woodland, wildflower meadows, ponds, heritage orchards, and fruit and vegetable gardens. 

Scotswood is in an area known for its high levels of poor health, long-term unemployment and high crime rates. The garden is a hub for the community, offering opportunities for people of all ages to get involved. These include gardening groups for older people to combat loneliness, sessions to support people with their mental health, and training for budding gardeners. The garden also works with local young people through extensive education, youth and play services.

In 2016 the charity received £74,000 from Lloyds Bank Foundation which contributes towards the salaries of staff to deliver and manage a three-year project, 'Growing Together.'

The project uses gardening and horticulture as tools to support adults with mental health problems who have a range of complex issues. The project helps people with learning disabilities, autism, alcohol dependency, and people who are long-term unemployed or living in poverty.

In 2019, the charity received additional funding to support the development and continuation of the project. The funding contributes to the core costs of the charity and the salaries of staff associated with the project. 

 

What is the Growing Together project?

The Growing Together Project offers a range of activities which are supported by the charity's Garden & Wellbeing Officers and Garden & Community Engagement Manager. These include small group gardening activities which focus on mental health, horticultural training, employability, and individual support sessions. Participants also have the opportunity to visit employers and take part in other projects and work experience at the garden to support them to move on to work or volunteering. One participant describes their experience at the charity:

 

"We work as a team; we cut the grass and do the weeding and planting. You get to meet and help people. I love it when we have open days; they're especially happy days for me. When you come here, it feels good to get out and get some fresh air."

 

The charity also ensures that the voices of local people, volunteers, and participants inform their work through their volunteer and community forums. These forums help the charity to make decisions and contribute to their strategic planning. Scotswood is a truly user-led and collaborative charity which has meant that many volunteers benefit from attending the gardens. 

Alongside funding, Scotswood Natural Community Garden has received additional development support. This support includes strategic planning, marketing, and help to implement a cloud-based system which will allow the charity to evaluate their impact better: 

"It has been really useful, especially the consultant that came and helped us to develop our business plan and identify what training could further support us. We had looked at potential training opportunities, but she helped us narrow down what would benefit us most. We also worked with someone to develop our social media calendar and think about our marketing strategies. Our social media presence is so much better now!"

Like many charities, 2020 was a challenging year for Scotwood as they had to adapt to delivering services under COVID-19 restrictions. However, the staff and volunteers worked hard to ensure the gardens could remain open where possible. Karen Dobson, the charity's CEO, tells us that:

 

"We've been very busy at the garden, after a lot of planning and risk assessment we were able to welcome volunteers and young people back to the garden in late June. It's definitely been a challenge! The additional support we received has been brilliant."

 

Through gardening, volunteering and community interaction, Scotswood has had a huge impact on the lives of people in the local community, and programmes like the 'Growing Together' project continues to improve the physical and mental health of those who attend. 

"I like to contribute to something worthwhile. I like getting out and working with other people. The garden is a nice peaceful environment to spend time in. I feel happy and productive. I love coming here because no one is treated like they have a problem. I have been coming for many, many years."

Keith, Volunteer

What do we mean by Mental Health?

Service user at a mental health charity doing some gardening

People who are managing mental health problems resulting in significant disruption to everyday living or in recovery from an episode of such problems occurring in the last two years.

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We're more than just a funder

We work in partnership with small and local charities. We are committed to funding them for longer, providing development support and influencing policy. Through this partnership, we help charities help more people dealing with complex social issues and help charities to be stronger and improve wider policy and practice.

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