Our Ashley Road hostel recently threw open its doors to host ‘The Big Dig’, which bought together residents, community groups and members of the public to transform the garden of the hostel.

The Big Dig was organised by SHP's Gardening Project, which aims to transform the lives of people we work with through gardening.

Of Butterflies and Bees joined forces with Kentish Town Transition Project to transform the space into a magical forest garden for hostel residents to enjoy. Throughout the day, volunteers from the local community worked together to build a pond, create a curved pathway and plant beautiful fruit trees and flowers.

Residents from the hostel are already benefiting from the transformation: ‘I didn’t come into the garden before, but now I’m looking forward to spending time here. I’m going to look after the flowers and the trees, and look forward to hopefully eating some of the fruit in the summer!’

Giving the people we work with access to outdoor spaces and some responsibility can do wonders as part of their recovery

Dani Singer, Gardening Project Coordinator, said: "Having a safe, tranquil and welcome place for residents to go can have a very beneficial impact on their wellbeing and mental health. Gardening is about so much more than just making a space look better – giving the people we work with access to outdoor spaces and some responsibility can do wonders as part of their recovery.

"We’re so thankful for everyone who has made The Big Dig possible. The garden looks wonderful thanks to everyone’s passion, commitment and creativity. I’m particularly excited for next spring and summer when all the flowers and trees will come into bloom."

As well as gardening, the day was full of celebration and creativity. Music was provided by Laurence Woods, Alexanders Fry and Shackle Free. A volunteer, Alan, also read a piece of poetry to the audience he had written himself with much encouragement found in the crowd. Attendees also had the opportunity to make nature-themed lino prints and artwork.

Find out more about SHP’s Opportunities Programme.