Growing Support is a not-for-profit Community Interest Group which creates gardening clubs and activities in care homes. Founders Dale Cranshaw and Victoria Hill set up Growing Support in 2013 after visiting older relatives living in residential care and finding them lonely and bored, despite being surrounded by people.
They decided to find a way to increase the involvement of the community in care, while providing affordable ways to tackle loneliness and inactivity. The result was weekly gardening clubs, mostly in care home gardens, where volunteers help older people connect with nature, exercise, socialise and take part in activities such as food growing.
So far the organisation has trained more than 50 volunteers and helped establish 30 gardening groups. In 2015, volunteers supported more than 4,000 hours of therapeutic gardening activity for older people. And in 2016, they are working in partnership with Care Home Open Day to encourage 4,000 care homes supporting more than 100,000 people to open their doors to the community and work together in the garden.
The ultimate goal, says Victoria Hill, is to ensure “every elderly person in the UK has access to the outdoors and can stay connected to the local community”.