With spring just around the corner, SHP is pleased to announce the launch of Green Spark, the newly revamped gardening programme.   

Ariana Jordao, SHP’s Green coordinator and project lead, said: "During the sessions, everyone works together without necessarily knowing who’s a client, who’s a volunteer or who’s a staff member."  

"That’s a really special thing: shifting the focus from the individual, to the activity that people are doing together, building that common ground, as equals."

Blossoming Plans

Ariana has a wide range of plans for Green Spark, hoping to open it up to as many clients as possible – even those who don’t have access to a garden.

"I’m looking at starting a session where clients can make their own window boxes. It’s a great way to get clients who don’t have access to soil involved – people can start with a simple planter and then see if they want to engage further," she says.

With access to sites proving to be one major barrier for engagement, Ariana is aiming to expand the Green Spark beyond our two main sites in Lambeth and Ilford into a partnership with a local Community Garden in a public park. This next phase of Green Spark will launch soon.

Ariana explains: "This will be a site with its own history and community network that SHP clients will be able to bring their creativity to, making their own tangible contribution to a long standing established project." It will also allow clients to spend time in the space by themselves, outside of service hours.

"Who knows, maybe one day we might even start our own community garden? Giving clients ownership of a site, that they work to develop from scratch, would give them something to be really proud of."

Hostels and their gardens will also be developed, with Ariana focusing on recruiting a network of volunteers - one matched to each hostel to manage and work with residents at each garden.

"Seeds are just like people: full of potential"

With education, training and employment (ETE) an important part of our work, Ariana is also looking at ways to help more clients gain opportunities from Green Spark, as well as ways to sell off the produce that the sites produce – perhaps even to staff.

These plans could eventually include tailored business start-up training so that clients can become self-employed and start their own small gardening business or enterprises.

"The project aims to give opportunities to clients to gain experience and qualifications, but also to build their capacities to interact in a more professionalised environment," says Ariana.

It is this potential change and growth within people that motivates Ariana’s passion for Green Spark the most.

"Seeds are just like people: full of potential. When you plant a seed, it is an act of hope - hope that, if the seed is given time and attention, it will start to grow and develop."

"They all grow slightly different; some grow faster, some will grow wonky, but you love them anyway. They just need to be given the right conditions to flourish."

Want to get involved in Green Spark? The project is always looking for volunteers. Contact Ariana for more information: [email protected]