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Project information

Women's Refuge Garden Project in Wakefield

To create a safe and happy garden where women and children fleeing domestic abuse can relax and play. Often women in refuges are too frightened to go outside, so a private garden with play area would provide a space for them and their children to relax, develop confidence and socialise.

March 2018 - March 2019

Charity information: Church Homeless Trust

Church Homeless Trust logo
  • Need


    Marie House is a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. Often women who have suffered abuse are too scared to go out, and the nearest park is a 20-minute walk away. Consequently the children are stuck inside with nowhere to play or exercise.
    Furthermore the women are not able to contact their family and friends, or to continue in their jobs, for fear of being located. So they can easily become housebound with little to do, and little opportunity to socialise.


    The garden will provide a safe outdoor space for the women and children to relax, play and socialise.
    The women and children will be able to learn gardening skills by working with a therapeutic gardener. Gardening will provide a range of health and social benefits; including teamwork and friends; confidence-building; physical exercise; growing and cooking vegetables; planning and designing, and immense satisfaction.
    We will also provide an exciting yet safe play area for the children.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Promote physical exercise, health and wellbeing for women and children fleeing domestic abuse


    » Regular play sessions and activities with the service's Child Support Worker will promote playing outside and physical activity.
    » Gardening will provide gentle exercise. Through growing and cooking vegetables, residents will learn about healthy eating, eating on a budget,
    » Mums can attend outdoor support and teaching sessions in a calm environment while their children are able to play safely nearby.

    What success will look like

    Staff will complete evaluations after each session to gain feedback from the mothers and children about their health, and monitor the engagement and popularity of sessions.

    Aim 2

    Survivors of abuse being abIe to gain self confidence and make new friends


    » Residents will have control of what is grown and in maintaining the garden, encouraging self-confidence and teamwork.
    » Residents can take part in regular sessions with a trained horticultural therapist who will provide support to individuals.
    » Residents will care for the garden as team, and take part in educational tasks and friendly competitions such as flower-growing.

    What success will look like

    Staff will complete evaluations after each session and gain feedback from the mothers and children about their emotional health and hopes for the future.

  • Impact


    The garden project will help the women to regain their self confidence and move on. It will give them the space to play with their children, and meet and make new friends.
    The garden will be a permanent asset used on average by 35 women and 55 children a year.
    We will record the use of the garden and gather comments from the women and children who use it. Staff monitor the progress of the women and children in the refuge and will report on how activities in the garden have helped.


    Risks could include not raising the full amount required. In this case the plans will be scaled back.
    A further risk could be a cut to statutory funding, or a change of service provider. Marie House has been a refuge since 2005 and no tender or change in service provision is planned during the project. Should management change, the funding raised will remain ring-fenced for the purposes stated.


    We will update donors on the progress of the project through monthly email newsletters.
    At the end of the project we will provide a report with stories and quotes from the women and children.
    (We will not be able to provide project visits because of the need to preserve anonymity.)

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £21,579

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £13,500 Play area Equipment (swing, see-saw, spring seats and climbing frame) including safe-surfacing and maintenance
      £3,760 Horticultural therapist employed for 1 yr, £20/hr, 4 hours a week, 47 weeks
      £560 Summerhouse Installation of summerhouse including blinds for privacy.
      £850 Seating for summerhouse Rattan high back sofa set
      £299 Garden furniture Outdoor garden furniture set
      £250 Gardening equipment Watering cans, trowels, forks, spades, gloves and rakes both adult and children’s sizes
      £1,500 Raised flower beds and Building raised disabled-access beds and filling with topsoil
      £860 Patio paving and laying
  • Background


    Marie House is a refuge in the Wakefield area. It provides self-contained accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. There is a communal lounge, playroom and a large garden area at the rear of the building. Currently the garden has no play facilities for the children or a seating area for mums. The nearest park is a 20-minute walk away, and many of the women struggle to leave the scheme due to the risk of being found by perpetrator, or physical or mental illnesses.


    Marie House can accommodate eight women and up to 35 children at a time. On average it provides refuge to 35 women and 55 children per year.
    Every resident will benefit from the garden as it will help meet the 'Every Child Matters' outcomes :
    Be healthy
    Enjoy and achieve
    Make a positive contribution
    Achieve economic wellbeing
    Stay safe
    After the initial year of development the garden will remain as a legacy for future residents at Marie House

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have funded gardening projects in the past and know what a huge help they can be for people who have experience of homelessness and trauma. Our on-going project for homeless women in Westminster has seen extremely vulnerable women engage enthusiastically with the horticultural therapist and change their outlook on life.
    We have supported Marie House with grants for activities and items that enhance the wellbeing, education, and confidence of the residents for more than eight years.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Suzanne Bailey

    Service Manager, Marie House: will ensure project delivery, working with contractors on-site and implementing programmes in the garden.

    Sharon Leighton

    Area Manager, Marie House and other projects

    Tracy Wroe

    Children's Support Worker, Marie House: will arrange and run sessions for the children around health and wellbeing.

    Neil Willcox

    Information Officer, Thrive: will source horticultural therapist for ongoing delivery of gardening sessions at the project.