In 2009 and 2010 we collaborated with worked with several hundred volunteers from homeless agencies across the UK, as well as a handful of prisons, to create two show gardens that scooped silver medals.

The projects aimed to demonstrate what’s possible, if people are just given the right opportunity to turn their lives around. Volunteers got involved at all levels of the project, developing new skills around planting (10-12,000 plants were grown for each garden!), design, construction, and even on-site hospitality. It has given many of them the means to move on to further training and qualifications.

Rob Greenhill, a volunteer and service user at Watford New Hope Trust, said: ‘It's been a joy to produce the plants and see them integrated in such a beautiful display. The experience has improved my self esteem and I hope will help me gain regular work and stable accommodation.’

Designed by the Eden Project’s Paul Stone, the gardens explored the themes of exclusion, choice, fortune, opportunity, hope, achievement and change – as well as craft and enterprise and the importance of teamwork.

The gardens were a collaboration with national regeneration agency the Homes and Communities Agency, Communities and Local Government, the national membership charity Homeless Link, and the London Employer Accord

Find out more about The Key garden (2009) and the Places of Change garden (2010). Explore a virtual map of the Places of Change garden.

It’s been a pleasure to focus on growing, which has been a great release from the pressures of daily life, and, most of all, hugely therapeutic.

Rob, a volunteer and service user at Watford New Hope Trust

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