Rosie Boycott, chair of London Food, officially launched the partnership between Thrive and Boursin to renovate part of the Herb Garden in Battersea Park and help more than 50 disabled and /or disadvantaged Londoners.
Thrive received funding from Boursin®, the makers of the delicious French cream cheese with herbs, which has enabled us to upgrade and enhance the Herb Garden creating new garden beds and planting a stunning display of culinary, medicinal and therapeutic herbs and spices.
The gardening programme has been designed to enable gardeners at Thrive to develop the skills they need to grow, display and sell herbs and spices, as well as attract public interest in our work and generating income for the charity.
People on the programme are severely disadvantaged in the employment market and have been unable to sustain independent employment, but are capable of contributing and performing in a supported environment such as the one at Thrive.
The launch event kicked off with volunteers from brand owner Bel UK getting involved with the renovation of the herb garden and a speech given by Rosie Boycott (below left
) who praised the partnership, the work of Thrive, and spoke passionately about other food growing projects in London which are increasing year on year.
Alessandra Laraud, brand manager at Boursin®, said: "We’re very proud to be supporting Thrive this year as they continue their great work in the community.
"The Herb Garden is an incredible initiative that’s making a real difference to those
touched by disability and ill health in the local area."
Kathryn Rossiter, Chief Executive at Thrive, said: "We envisage that 80% of disabled gardeners taking part will improve their psychological health and wellbeing, their physical health, personal and social skills, communication and social interaction and motivation.
"Most of the people on the project will meet and engage with the public through retail opportunities in the Herb Garden.
"And we expect to see around half of those taking part move on to new roles as supported employees beyond the project duration."
There is a desperate need for greater opportunities to be made available to people touched by disability or ill health.
*800,000 Londoners of working age are disabled and one in eight suffers mental health problems.
"The current provision for adult learners with disabilities is costly and does not provide value for money….compassion is seen as not only sufficient but as a justification for restricting ambition and growth." (Adult Learning Inspectorate)
Kathryn added: "The majority of disabled people want to work and to be a contributing member of their community and it is at the core of Thrive’s work in Battersea to support these ambitions and aspirations.
"It is clear to us that working in a public park, developing gardens and making real changes to create public amenities have a profound impact on people.
"Thrive has been hugely successful – over 30% of participants on our Working it Out programme have gained paid work which is above the outcomes achieved and projected for the government’s Work Programme.
"We believe that’s because we can offer the support and flexibility which disabled and vulnerable people need and deserve.
"We are thrilled with this cash injection and support from Boursin® which has enabled us to establish a new working herbs and spices retail operation, which helps our gardeners and generates income for the charity."
Visitors are welcome to come and have a look at the renovation as the Herb Garden is part of the public Battersea Park. You will find it near the Albert Gate bridge entrance near to the Staff Yard.
* (Disabled people and the labour market in London: key facts, Data Management and Analysis Group, Greater London Authority briefing 2007).