St. Mary’s Secret Garden is in full bloom after receiving an award of £91,000 to train 48 young people with learning disabilities and mental health conditions.
The community-driven garden project, located in the middle of Hackney, has promoted the importance of urban green spaces for more than 25 years.
City of London Corporation’s charity, City Bridge Trust, a London-focussed charity, awarded the money as a part of its £2m ‘Growing Localities’ programme. Helping unemployed young people find work in the green sector, the scheme includes £1m for horticultural training.
Billy Dove, chairman of City Bridge Trust, said: “Horticulture is a nourishing and nurturing experience – both for plants and people. This grant will help cultivate opportunities for disadvantaged Londoners by helping them find jobs in the horticultural industry.”
Programme participants will receive training in a range of horticultural activities, from beekeeping to growing vegetables.
Geoff Juden, founder of East London Garden Society, believes the award will also have wider benefits for sustainable industries.
He said: “Predominantly, it is believed that gardening is left to the elderly and those with a passion for the subject. However, as we become more aware of our own surroundings, as well as what we eat, we become more involved. Jobs are being created all the time in sustainable industries, what is lacking is the knowledge to fill those jobs.”
Paula Yassine, manager of St Mary’s Secret Garden, welcomed the award. She said: “The City Bridge Trust grant will help us offer local, disadvantaged youngsters the physical and mental well-being both horticultural activities and employment provide. At the same time, these young people can help improve the local area more broadly, by providing horticultural services to groups – like the elderly – who may not be unable to tend their own gardens or green spaces.”