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Project information

Horticulture for Homeless People

The homeless people at The Connection are some of the most disadvantaged people in society. They've few employable skills, struggle with poor physical/mental health, and many have suffered abuse. We want to increase their access to meaningful occupation, central to a fulfilling life, with gardening.

January 2016 - December 2016

Charity information: The Connection at St Martin's - helping homeless people in London

The Connection at St Martin's - helping homeless people in London logo
  • Need


    The homeless people at The Connection are some of the most disadvantaged people in our society. They've few employable skills, many have low literacy and numeracy skills, a significant proportion struggle with poor physical and mental health, and many have suffered abuse. Consequentially, disadvantaged homeless people are often socially excluded and living in poverty, leaving them with little access to meaningful occupation, which is central to living a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.


    The Connection will give homeless people opportunity to attend Gardening Workshops in partnership with local businesses and the new Garden Bridge, giving access to meaningful occupation. At these workshops, homeless people will look after plants in an urban environment, acquiring a range of new skills which will benefit their confidence and increase employability. This positively impacts upon both physical and mental health, fosters an inclusive social environment, and improves the local area.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To create thriving urban gardens, cared for by disadvantaged homeless people.


    » We will employ a professional horticulturalist to deliver workshops over a 6-month period.
    » Alongside the professional workshops, we will run weekly gardening sessions.
    » We will invest in the proper tools, and in a range of plants, giving the people we're working with a breadth of horticultural experience.

    What success will look like

    Success will be enabling homeless people to create and maintain 2 urban gardens, and to develop sound plans for our partnership with the Garden Bridge (open 2018).

    Aim 2

    To foster a socially inclusive environment for disadvantaged homeless people.


    » This project will be advertised around our Centre in posters, on social media, and by staff and volunteers actively encouraging service-users to join.
    » Members of our in-house volunteering scheme, Step Up, will be asked to encourage their peers to participate in this project.
    » The weekly workshops and gardening sessions will be open to all, and structured to be relaxing and enjoyable to the homeless people attending.

    What success will look like

    Success will be 10 or more clients in attendance, returning weekly to complete 150 hours of gardening activities, and participating well with staff, volunteers and peers.

    Aim 3

    To improve the physical and mental health, and the employability, of homeless people.


    » Taking part in a meaningful activity, such as gardening, has proven positive effects on both physical and mental health.
    » There will be a focus on enabling participants to acquire and develop horticultural and arboricultural skills and to access qualifications.
    » Connection staff will be at all workshops and sessions to offer advice and support to those in crisis.

    What success will look like

    Success will be a noted improvement in the health of participants, an increase in engagement with other Connection services, and uptake of further training and qualifications.

  • Impact


    This project will allow people who are rough sleeping in Westminster borough to take an involved role in caring for the local area. This will break down exclusion and enable them to become an active member of society, and also enable them to 'give something back', a sentiment which is often expressed by the homeless people we help. Success will be defined as the inclusion of homeless people in decisions being made in the locality, and in homeless people occupying a more prominent role in society


    There is a risk that the homeless people who participate in this project will lose interest and cease to attend, and that the gardens will not be maintained effectively. We have dealt with this risk by bringing in a professional horticulturalist to steer this project. Additionally, our staff have many years of experience working with homeless people and a proven track record in helping people to turn their lives around - we're very well placed to ensure this project is a success for all.


    Funders of this project will be invited to attend workshops and sessions, to meet with and maybe do some gardening together with the homeless participants if they would like, and will be kept updated on our evolving partnerships with local Northbank businesses and the Garden Bridge.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £2,982 Horticulturalist Conducting Workshops once a week, for a period of 6 months
      £1,726 CSTM Staff time Our Groups & Activities co-ordinator will oversee the project and assist participants
      £1,292 Materials/further opportunity Gardening gloves/tools, plants, and access to City & Guild qualifications
  • Background


    The Northbank Business Improvement District (BID) was formed in 2013; its aim is to improve the Aldwych-Strand-Trafalgar Square area. This area has one of the highest street homeless populations in Europe, so it is important that homeless people are able to participate in the local area, which in turn will improve their own situation and help them to move away from the streets. The Garden Bridge will be built across the Thames from the Northbank, another excellent opportunity for involvement.


    First and foremost, disadvantaged homeless people will benefit through an improvement in their own personal circumstances; secondly, the local area will benefit from the introduction of well maintained urban gardens; thirdly, society as a whole will benefit from the meaningful inclusion of an often overlooked and excluded group of people who still have so much to give.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Connection at St Martin's has a history of helping homeless people stretching back almost 100 years. We are the UK's largest specialist organisation working with rough sleepers and have a proven track record of successfully helping people to turn their lives around and leave behind self-destructive street lifestyles. We have a user-led philosophy, and homeless people are consulted at all levels - this project being a prime example, as it was requested that we run gardening workshops

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Steve Huddleston

    Steve is our Groups & Activities Coordinator, and is overseeing this project. He is passionate about giving disadvantaged people access to opportunity

Steve is passionate about social inclusion

Steve is passionate about social inclusion


pays for enrollment in an 8-week Gardening Course

When the wife died I was left to bring up my son. Then when my son left home I was on my own. I didn't feel right, I started getting depressed.