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Background

Background

Sydenham Garden is a unique wellbeing centre utilising its gardens, nature reserve and activity rooms to help people in their recovery from mental and physical ill-health in Lewisham.

We aim to do this through providing co-workers (the name we give to our primary beneficiaries) an opportunity to take part in one of our four main projects, along with many supplementary activities and clubs. Three of these projects are focused on Adult Mental Health and include gardening, art & craft, cooking and opportunities to achieve recognised qualifications. The fourth project is focused on Dementia and includes all the same elements but underpins them with Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST).

We aim to promote inclusion and reduce prejudice by bringing together co-workers with different degrees of mental and physical ill health, volunteers and members of the local community to work together.

Sydenham Garden enables people to improve their quality of life, social interaction and physical and mental health in a supportive community environment.

How we have grown: History

Founded in 2002, a small group of local residents had the vision and dedication to convert a neglected nature reserve into what we have today – a thriving community garden, which preserves and cares for the nature reserve and its original inhabitants.

Sydenham Garden was later constituted as a charitable company limited by guarantee in 2004.

Following a year and a half of rubbish and scrub clearance, the laying out of a community garden began in 2005.

A small, walled garden, enclosing several raised beds was built immediately in front of the greenhouse, using bricks reclaimed on site (probably originating from the other demolished greenhouses). Volunteers and co-workers were involved in the construction and subsequent planting with vegetables, herbs and flowers. The garden was officially opened at our Spring Fair in April 2006 by T.V. gardener and writer, Gay Search. As it includes some restored and some original elements from as for back as the 1800’s, when it was a rose nursery, we now refer to this area as our Victorian Garden.

The garden has became one of our main resources and is used for the whole community, but is particularly used by those people, referred to us by local health professionals, who are coping with significant illness, for horticultural, conservation, creative work, arts & crafts tasks and training.

After 5 years worth of fundraising and thanks to many donations In 2011 we finished building and opened our Resource Centre.  A beautiful, environmentally friendly building, that serves as an activity and administration base.

After some pilot groups and a partnership with MindCare, a Bromley and Lewisham Mind service for people with Dementia, we branched out and started offering services for people with early stages of dementia.  In 2013 we formalised this and now make up part of the local provision.

In 2015 we opened a new site called De Frene which operates as a Market Garden (Grow to sell)  and has enabled us to diversify our offer to co-workers.