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Project information

Penge Green Gym

Our Big Idea combines social, economic and environmental benefits through a "Green Gym". Conservation work is great exercise! With support via the Big Give, BTCV can provide the community in Penge with the opportunity to learn new skills, get fit, and transform an urban green space.

March 2012 - May 2013

Charity information: BTCV

BTCV logo
  • Need


    BTCV’s proposed Penge Green Gym project will benefit some of the most disadvantaged people in South London, by enabling them to look after local green spaces in some of the poorest areas, acting together for social and environmental benefits. The Penge Green Gym will solve 3 problems:

    1. Address health inequalities by recruiting hard-to-reach participants from deprived areas.
    2. Build a stronger community links.
    3. Develop skills, knowledge, confidence and experience to improve well-being.


    BTCV has worked with the National Health Service to develop the Green Gym model to maximise physical and mental health benefits (confirmed by independent evaluation) of conservation volunteering.

    Volunteer clients with physical and/or mental health issues will be recruited to take part in conservation, gardening, and food growing to transform a Penge park. This will bring multiple health and fitness benefits, as volunteers are trained and supervised (including warm up / cool down exercises)

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Deliver mental and physical health benefits to volunteer clients.


    » Create links with local community groups and support services to encourage participation of a wide diversity of volunteers in physical outdoor work.
    » Design sessions to include a range of activities suitable for all abilities that improve skills, fitness and confidence.
    » Maximise health benefits through incorporating a warm-up and cool-down at the beginning and end of each session.
    » Monitor the mental and physical benefits felt by volunteers.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...80% of clients reporting:
    -Improved mental and physical health
    -Increased social interaction with other community members
    -Greater self-confidence and skills

    Aim 2

    Transform Winsford Gardens, a unique green space, through conservation, gardening, and food growing.


    » Weekly Wednesday sessions held in Winsford Gardens, Penge, led by BTCV to improve gardens for the community and wildlife.
    » Work to include building raised veg beds, creating a wildlife pond, planting an orchard, sowing wildflower meadows and improving ornamental beds etc.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...
    -Increased biodiversity
    -The local community reporting increased enjoyment and use of the gardens
    -Decrease in anti-social behaviour

    Aim 3

    After 2 years, for BTCV to create a sustainable community group who will continue the project.


    » To train volunteers in the skills required to form a sustainable community group, constituted under BTCV's Community Network, and continue the work.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...
    -Formation of a community group, constituted under BTCV's Community Network, who will continue weekly sessions of conservation and gardening work around Penge.

  • Impact


    Enabling the community to run Green Gym sessions for themselves.

    BTCV aims to empower the local community in Penge, building up their skills and experience so that, in the long term, they are able to run the Penge Green Gym as a community group by themselves.


    Risks are to volunteer safety.
    Full risk assessments are carried out prior to conservation sessions. Sessions start with a health and safety demonstration including tool demonstration.
    Trained leaders are present at each session.


    Quarterly reports to donors. Invite to quarterly steering group meetings and other events held.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £27,314

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £22,334 Project Leadership Recruiting volunteers, training, and management
      £4,980 In Kind Tools, publicity, transport

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Capital Shopping Centres £15,000 Guaranteed
    London Borough of Bromley £4,980 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Winsford Gardens is the primary location of the project, a small park in the centre of Penge owned by London Borough of Bromley. As the former the private gardens to Winsford House the gardens contain some stunning features such as rose gardens and a disused pond system, but due to neglect and anti-social behaviour is badly in need of some attention. The project aims to breathe life back into the gardens making it a valuable space for the local community and wildlife.


    Penge is a disadvantaged area of Bromley with a wide ethnic diversity, and the Green Gym will aim to help in the region of 100 volunteers a year. Taster sessions of the Green Gym have attracted ~20 volunteers to each, many of whom have been referred by local health specialists or support services. The local community has also embraced the project with a wide range of volunteers. Positive feedback has reported increased confidence, skills and welll-being as a result of the sessions.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    BTCV has 14 years of experience in developing and leading Green Gyms. This unique concept was developed in 1997 by BTCV and Dr William Bird to maximise the health benefits of conservation work, benefits which have been proven by independent research through Oxford Brookes University. Penge Green Gym is one of over 100 community Green Gyms in the country.

    As an environmental charity BTCV aims to inspiring people, improving places

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    South London Green Gym Project Officer, Lizzy Johnson

    Lizzy's role is to organise practical sessions, recruit volunteers, and provide leadership and training during tasks.

    The Volunteers

    The Green Gym's success is dependant on the enthusiasm and commitment of volunteers, and on the transferable skills they bring to their community.

Penge Green Gym Official Launch Video


will contribute towards the wildlife pond

"Working in conservation has made me feel mentally much better. My life is back to normal now and I now do more gardening jobs in my neighbourhood"

Walter, Green Gym, London In Bloom Award Winner