Michael's story

A Great Day Out participant tells us about his inspirational day at Eden.

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Eden's Great Day Out programme reached out to those people whom we most want to visit, but who are least likely to come. By offering groups a facilitated, tailor-made experience, we helped these visitors build confidence and take positive steps forward. Our aims were to:

  • Positively engage people who wouldn’t normally visit Eden
  • Offer informal education
  • Build confidence and increase motivation
  • Support people to find direction, leading to volunteering, training or employment

What is a Great Day Out?

We designed each bespoke visit to include a variety of elements:

  • An Eden Journey: a personalised tour through the site, which encourages groups to share ideas and life stories, and to learn more about each other, our interpendence and the world around us.
  • A peek behind the scenes: an opportunity to meet the people who work at Eden and understand how they got there and what makes them tick.
  • A hands-on activity: These included things like arts, craft and photography, storytelling, gardening, cooking, skating, den building, guided journeys, workshops on climate change, fair trade, recycling, compost making, container gardening, confidence building, role models, team building, events and exhibitions.
  • Follow-up work: We worked with our partners back in the community to create lasting impacts. For example, we have supported garden projects, hosted exhibitions and run therapeutic storytelling workshops in hostels.

What are the benefits of a Great Day Out?

We ran over 200 Great Days Out, involving over 1,900 people from more than 50 partner agencies. Great Day Out helped many participants take their first step towards getting their life back on track. 93% told us felt positive, inspired, normal, or that they had learned something; 80% intended to take positive action; and 61% said their perception had changed positively.

As for our partners, 97% noticed positive changes in their clients' behaviour, mood and attitude, and 79% said they would change the way they work as a result of the programme.

The programme also challenged society's perceptions about socially excluded people.

Pauls' story

Paul came on a Great Day Out with Cosgarne Hall in spring 2011, and he loved Eden so much he decided to volunteer.

To begin with he planned to volunteer one day a week but quickly found himself on site for most of the week due to his enthusiasm and ability to fit into and support the team.

Paul Stone, who heads up the landscape gardening team that Paul volunteers with, says 'Paul has been extremely enthusiastic, he has taken advantage of the opportunity to do work that he has been trained for in previous employment.'

He adds: 'He is enjoying being part of the team.'

Paul says he now aims to get paid work and is doing an NVQ in Horticulture. Volunteering at Eden is developing his CV, giving him contacts for further work, and keeping him busy in a supportive environment.

Regi's story

When two men were jailed for abuse at the care home that Regi had lived in as a child, a whole lot of difficult memories came flooding back. By then a hard-working builder, he suffered a mental breakdown and turned to alcohol and drug abuse.

After his first failed and rushed attempt at rehab, Regi finally recovered and began taking a slower, more constructive approach to rebuild his life. Through the Salvation Army he took part in a Great Day Out, which helped him realise that there were opportunities out there for him.

‘Great Day Out gives people the chance… I’ve done something constructive here. I wanted my life back, and I think I’ve done it…. I’ve got confidence in myself and people have confidence in me and my ability, in what I can do, not what I’ve done.’

Dean's story

Dean went into care when he was four years old; as he grew up he started getting into trouble and became a prolific offender with a heroin addiction. He started looking after some plants at his hostel for the Eden Project's Chelsea Flower Show Garden, then came to Eden for a Great Day Out, and even volunteered for us for a time. 

Dean says: “At Eden you feel at your best, you feel at ease, which brings the best out in you and brings the best out in other people really. I knew that I would like to be a part of this ethos, the great principles they live by here. It’s so much more then just plants, it’s the whole makeup and the whole cycle of life really; looking after yourself, looking after the world you live in. I feel in my heart of hearts that it's right and I wanted to be part of that.”