Stand Up Garden tell us the latest from their project

Stand Up Garden's project is well underway to transform the disused space in front of Cambridge House into a beautiful garden with wild flowers, native plants, vegetables and a sensory garden. Back in June, some of the volunteers from Stand Up Garden came to The Shard with Grow Wild to take part in the opening of London's Highest Summer Garden, which Grow Wild had contributed to. At the time, they had just started clearing the front garden of Cambridge House...


We were keen to get an update on what they've been up to, so some of the amazing young volunteers from Cambridge House got together to write this blog post about how their project is going as we get into the autumn months... 

Cambridge House is a social action centre working locally and nationally to tackle poverty & social injustice. We are based in Camberwell, South London, and our premises provide a safe haven for everyone who accesses them. We provide services including a law centre, advocacy, arts and sports groups for people with learning disabilities, and youth empowerment projects.

Stand-Up Southwark is our youth empowerment programme, which supports 16-25 year olds who face a multitude of challenges in their lives, often interlinked with the levels of poverty in our area. The young people meet regularly for sessions aimed at building confidence, communication skills, employability skills, and challenging their personal thought patterns, and emotional and behavioural barriers. They support and motivate each other: the onus is on self-empowerment.

The Stand-Up group decided to work on a project together to encourage teamwork, and are excited that Cambridge House has received funding from Grow Wild for the community garden at Cambridge House, which has sadly been neglected for a while. 

“We wanted to work on a project that gave us a connection to the community, get us off our phones and participate in something different. If young people help construct their local community, they care more and are less likely to ruin it. It will be a place for people to come to, to sit on the benches in peace. It will look good, really pleasant to look at. The final result will be beautiful. It will also get the community understanding fresh stuff. The vegetables and herbs we’re planting can help sustain and feed the community.

Before, the thought of gardening was out of our comfort zone. It’s not seen as a male, young thing to do. We didn’t even think public gardens were accessible to people like us. But we’ve now visited the Sky Garden at the Shard, and will be going to Kew Gardens with Grow Wild. One of us even went to a seminar on gardening, which talked about abstract thinking, creativity and influencing people.

Coming from a council estate, I don’t have a garden. It’s now one of the things I want when I’m older. It’s like music, inspiration.” (Liam, 19)

“I really appreciated the opportunity Grow Wild gave me to go to the opening of the garden at the Shard. It’s a very prestigious building, it’s not every day that a young person like me gets to go there and meet the head of the Shard. It was very exciting to see the official opening and cutting of the ribbon. Plus I got to be on London Live and Japanese TV!!” (Joash, 23)

The project has taught us a lot. We’re doing things we didn’t think possible. We didn’t know about any of it, but Grow Wild told us about the importance of wild flowers. They are important for the ecosystem because they produce oxygen and attract bees to pollenate more flowers. There’s a real variety of seeds and flowers, such as red and white campion, and they keep the ground fertile with nutrients.

Claire Vokins is a professional gardener and has volunteered a lot of time with us, she has been brilliant. She has educated us and we’ve realised that through teamwork we can achieve a lot. The skills we are learning can be applied to other things in life. It shows commitment, drive, a ‘can do’ attitude.

We’ve learnt to integrate with people of different ages and abilities, because we’re working on the project with ‘19+’, the Cambridge House art group for adults with learning disabilities. A lot of us have found painting the fence and planters therapeutic and relaxing. We’re going to add sensory areas to the garden, for people with learning disabilities to enjoy.

We’re going to connect our official opening of the Stand-Up Garden to the empowerment sessions we do. We can use the project for the music some of us make, because we can express new feelings related to gardening. We’re outside of our normal environment, so we’ll come up with new lyrics and emotions, it will be creative inspiration. The opening event will show people that anyone can garden, it’s a good exercise for teamwork. The garden will always change, like us. It’s a forever project.

Find out lots more about our projects across the UK by following us on Facebook and Twitter. And find out more about Cambridge House and the amazing work they do by checking out their website