The passion of a freelance gardener: Oriana’s story

    Joining St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots project helped Oriana to discover a new passion for gardening. Now, she’s forging a rewarding career as a freelance gardener. She explains why she’s so excited about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is great opportunity for everyone at Putting Down Roots. I’ve never been and I’m very excited to take part.

    “I came across Putting Down Roots for the first time in 2014. I took part in the project for one year and during that time, I learned the basics of horticulture. More importantly, I discovered my passion for nature and the benefits of working with the living plants that are so precious for everyone to survive.

    “Since then I have embarked on a gardening career path. At first I worked as an employee for some companies, but that didn’t suit me. Then I set myself up as a freelance gardener and I have ended up coming back here, working side by side with Putting Down Roots.

    “I’ve recently completed a garden design qualification and my goal is to study permaculture, and permaculture design. I want to contribute to making this world greener and it’s thanks to Putting Down Roots as well.”

    Find out more about putting Down Roots at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show here.

    Designing the Chelsea garden: Darryl’s story


    We’re incredibly lucky to be working with Cityscapes Director and Landscape Designer, Darryl Moore on our garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. He explains his vision behind the design, and what goes into creating a garden for the show.

    “Cityscapes began working with Putting Down Roots in 2012, when we created a pocket park in London Bridge called Gibbon’s Rent. It was a neglected alleyway which was being used for antisocial behavior, but we worked in partnership with the Architecture Foundation, Team London Bridge and Southwark Council to transform it into something everyone could enjoy. Putting Down Roots got involved in helping with the construction and they continue to maintain it to this day. Since then, we’ve worked together to create and maintain more pocket parks, as well as a number of temporary garden installations.

    “It’s been so inspiring to work with Putting Down Roots over the past 10 years. Horticultural therapy is really important for engaging with the world around us, and it’s great to see how that’s transformed people’s lives.

    “Now, we’re creating a garden at Chelsea, and we’re so excited! There’s an awful lot to do, but it’s a team effort, and a lot of fun. I like working with plants and materials, and bringing ideas to life. That’s really what it’s about – it’s a creative practice.

    “Our garden, The St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden is a public pocket park, much like the ones we’ve created with Putting Down Roots in the past. Public spaces are so good for our health and wellbeing and that’s become particularly apparent during the pandemic. Chelsea normally showcases domestic gardens, but we think it’s really important to show public gardens that are inclusive and available to everyone. We want people to see that they can be designed imaginatively whilst also being sustainable.

    “We’re reusing a lot of materials, including some materials from the gardens at last year’s show. The garden demonstrates how they can be transformed into different things and recycled creatively.

    “After the show, the garden is going to be relocated to the London Bridge area, so it will be available for everyone to use and enjoy. Things shouldn’t be thrown away, much like people’s lives shouldn’t be written off because of homelessness.”


    Find out more about putting Down Roots at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show here.

    Building confidence through gardening: Emily’s story

    Emily explains how the Putting Down Roots team have been preparing for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and how gardening can help clients to build confidence.

    “I’m Emily and I’m a Gardener Trainer for Putting Down Roots. One of the places I work is at our beautiful gardens at Cedars Road in Clapham. We run gardening groups here twice a week, where we have a whole range of exciting horticultural things, including a herb garden, vegetable beds, a fish pond, poly tunnel, greenhouse and a really great compost area. Plus a lovely warm classroom for when it’s chilly.

    “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the main event in the gardening calendar, so it will be a great experience for the whole Putting Down Roots team. Personally, I enjoy learning about the backstory of the different gardens, of why they’ve been designed and planted. I find that quite interesting, sometimes more interesting than the gardens themselves!

    “Our clients are very excited, and it’s a brilliant opportunity for them to see a big project through from start to finish. They’ve potted up and planted the actual plants that are being used within the garden, and have also been involved in preparing and planting up the design in situ at Chelsea. After the show, they’ll be helping to move the garden to its final home and destination in London Bridge. It will be a really good learning curve for them.

    “Darryl (the garden designer) has chosen an interesting selection of plants; predominantly native and wildlife friendly. It’s wonderful that the garden will be giving back to wildlife after the show, even in a busy urban setting like London Bridge. The trees we’re using are Hawthorn and Sorbus, which produce beautiful blossom, as well as berries – a great source of food for birds.

    “Overall, I hope this experience will help to grow our client’s confidence. That’s a lot of what we do really, helping people build their confidence through gardening. Perhaps it will give them inspiration to envisage what they could create in their own spaces – if they’ve got a garden, a balcony, or even just a windowsill inside, there’s so much they can do.”

    Find out more about putting Down Roots at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show here.

    LGBTQIA+ and Homelessness

     At St Mungo’s, there are many reasons why promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamentally important for us. The people we support are more likely to experience disadvantage and discrimination, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

    In this blog, we look at the link between LGBTQIA+ communities and homelessness, as well as how we support people.

    What is the link between LGBTQIA+ people and homelessness?

    Many LGBTQIA+ people still experience discrimination and bigotry and this can have an effect on home environments. This can result in them needing to leave home, sometimes without anywhere to go. As much as 24% of young people who are at risk of homelessness are LGBTQIA+ (Akt, 2015).

    Data from the charity Akt shows that many young LGBTQIA+ people experiencing homelessness aren’t aware of what services are available to support them, or are worried about experiencing discrimination in those services.

    Their 2021 report shows that 50% of young people fear that expressing their identity may end in being made to leave home. Before becoming homeless, 61% felt frightened or intimidated by family members.

    How does St Mungo’s help support LGBTQIA+ individuals?

    At St Mungo’s, we make sure our services are informed about LGBTQIA+ issues, and are welcoming to everyone regardless of sexual or gender identity.

    When referring people to our different kinds of accommodation, we assess whether that environment is right for them, including any support needs they might have, and what will make them feel most safe. Sometimes, single gender places are the best fit for the people we’re supporting, and in these cases we always make sure that people go to the accommodation that best fits their gender identity, unless they request otherwise.

    Our staff are trained on LGBTQIA+ issues, and we continually assess and consider the experience of our clients through feedback forms and services.

    How does St Mungo’s support and welcome LGBTQIA+ staff?

    We work with Stonewall UK and we are 14th on their Top Employers List.

    Stonewall has also awarded St Mungo’s a prestigious Gold Award, which celebrates organisations that go above and beyond to empower LGBTQIA+ staff members to be themselves at work.

    For the great inclusion work achieved by our LGBTQIA+ Network, St Mungo’s has also received a Highly Commended Network Group award.

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