Sandy Lane Gardening Group is based in Accrington in East Lancashire. We are a service user led initiative and have our own constitution, committee and bank account.
All our members are service users with mental health issues and who are supported by Creative Support which is one of the leading support providers in the UK. Our members live either at Sandy Lane, which is an Eaves Brook Housing property, Blackburn Road Project or have their own homes in the community whilst still receiving support services.
We started in July 2009 when the residents at Sandy Lane, together with other service users, decided to develop an unused part of the garden and start growing fruit and vegetables. We were helped with grants from Eaves Brook and Creative Support but our ambitions grew very quickly and we soon realised that we would need to access more grants. We found that the most effective way to do this was by formalising our group and having a constitution, committee and bank account.
Eaves Brook supported us in setting ourselves up as a formal association. Creative Support staff supported us individually when necessary to get all the arrangements in place and in September 2009 we became a formally constituted group..
However, from the outset we wanted the gardening group to be a totally service user led initiative and Creative Support has supported us in achieving that ambition. The service users at Sandy Lane, capably led by Allan, now have the skills and motivation to maintain and further improve their garden.
So, four years later, as you will read, we had virtually completed the work at Sandy Lane, become self financing, and were using the equipment and skills that we had built up in order to help others. We have worked with two learning disability projects in Accrington and have been awarded the garden maintenance contracts for Plantation Cottage and Pendle View. Apart from the routine garden maintenance we had been raising funds in order to make these two gardens more accessible for their service users. We had installed raised beds, a polytunnel and an orchard at Plantation Cottage and at Pendle View had created a fish pond, built raised beds, erected a greenhouse and constructed over a hundred feet of flagged pathways so that the service users could get into and enjoy their wonderful garden.