Connect Hackney

Connect Hackney partner featured in VCSE Operating Model


Connect Hackney partners, St Mary’s Secret Garden, run the Garden Social at St Mary’s Secret Garden – a weekly club for people with learning disabilities aged over 50.

The Club brings people together to work on shared gardening and maintenance activities. There are also opportunities for the ‘Garden Socialisers’ to plan and develop the club’s social activities.

St Mary’s Secret Garden has been featured in the VCSE Operating Model with a Case study by Paula Yassine, Director, St Mary’s Secret Garden

Paula said: “ St Mary’s Secret Garden works predominantly with people with learning disabilities, long term health conditions and mental ill health, who are funded mostly through Personal Independence Payments or by Social Services with a few with Personal Health Budgets. “

“Our service users have a mixture of health needs, many are on the autism spectrum as well, and many have a dual diagnosis with mental health needs as well as a learning disability.”

St Mary’s Secret Garden works with people from diverse backgrounds including young people, older people with learning disabilities and adults with mental ill health, through our specific funded projects.

They aim to bridge the gaps in services and ensure accessibility and inclusion – everyone can access the garden, however frail they may be considered to be.

Paula says: “During the pandemic, we have been phoning all our service users regularly, and providing plants and seeds to grow at home where possible or appropriate, as most of them have been shielding for either age or disability reasons. This is a very uncertain time for a lot of us and as a small charity it is not clear what funding will be available to us in the coming months, so if you can, please donate via our local giving page, or share this with others who may be able to help: www.localgiving.org/charity/secretgarden/

You can read more sector case studies in the VCSE Operating Model.
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