£167k boost to south London charity helping people with mental health

Hundreds of south Londoners suffering from mental health challenges will receive extra support thanks to new funding for a community horticultural project from City Bridge Trust.

 Sydenham Gardens’ Growing Lives project offers weekly social, therapeutic and vocational horticultural sessions, along with the chance to achieve a recognised horticultural accreditation.

 The project, aimed at people in Lewisham and Bromley, has been awarded a £167,000 grant over three years from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder. 

 City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

 “It is important that people with mental health challenges receive the support they need, to help them reach their full potential.

 “The Growing Lives project does extraordinary work in bringing people together and teaching them transferable skills to gain qualifications and improve their social skills, ultimately helping them be more confident.

 “This funding will allow Sydenham Garden to help more people with mental health difficulties to participate in society and enjoy a better quality of life.”

 Sydenham Garden was founded in 2002 by a small group of residents and later grew into a charity.

 Sydenham Garden Growing Lives Co-ordinator David Lloyd said:

“This project believes in the transformative power of nature, using our one-and-a-half-acre site in Lewisham as a place where people with mental health issues can reconnect with nature and the community.

 “Our therapeutic project is designed to improve people’s mental and physical health, and overall wellbeing, and help them learn new horticultural and transferable skills, which not only boosts their employability but also their confidence and self-esteem”.

The Growing Lives Projects expects to help hundreds of people improve their wellbeing and ensure that at least 80% feel better able to represent themselves and take the next step into employment or traineeship.

More information about Sydenham Garden and the Growing Lives project is available at www.sydenhamgarden.org.uk

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver. It awards grants of over £30 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

It has also made an extra £200 million available over five years from 2021 to 2026 to support London’s charity sector – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

 Case study

 Laura, from Lewisham, has spent a year attending the weekly therapeutic horticultural sessions at Growing Lives.

 She said, “I was a bit apprehensive when I first joined the project, but I quickly realised on my first day that Growing Lives is a safe space. The site is accessible and you can adept it to what you want to do and feel capable of doing that day.

"Most importantly, there isn’t a hierarchy. There is the safety of staff and support volunteers, but it feels like we’re all one at the same time. I’ve learned to be much more relaxed and confident in myself.

"I’ve become much more able to say what I can do, and what I would like to do. And I’m also much more able to say what I can’t do too! As such I have a better ability to be my real self.

"I’ve had the chance to do things that I’ve never done before like, or necessarily expected to do, such as building things, looking after chickens. It was a chance for affirmation, not challenge. It’s rare that you are told you are doing something well when living with mental health issues so this was a great change.”

 Picture captions

(1) David Lloyd, Growing Lives Co-Ordinator, Beekeeping at Sydenham Gardens

(2) A group of volunteers, helping make raised accessible beds at Sydenham Gardens

(3) City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

 Notes to editors

 The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK –  www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, a charity founded over 900 years ago to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

 Bridge House Estates is today responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges. Its grants team, City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – awards over £30 million a year to good causes across the capital.

 It has also made an extra £200 million available over five years from 2021 to 2026 to support London’s charity sector – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk