Credit:
Britt Willoughy-Dyer
Thought piece

There’s hope in a garden

Project Giving Back exists to amplify the work of charitable causes in the UK. We fulfil our purpose by funding gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The gardens are first a catalyst for engagement at the world-renowned Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, before being relocated or repurposed to permanent sites across the UK creating an ongoing legacy and benefit to the causes and their communities.

Written by:

Hattie Ghaui

Published on:

December 22, 2023

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Project Giving Back exists to amplify the work of charitable causes in the UK. We fulfil our purpose by funding gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The gardens are first a catalyst for engagement at the world-renowned Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, before being relocated or repurposed to permanent sites across the UK creating an ongoing legacy and benefit to the causes and their communities.

This year, PGB-supported gardens featured in over 1,200 articles in the press, and some of my favourite outcomes that this year’s cohort told us about include:

The fundraising statistics. Not all charities we work with make fundraising their primary measure of success, but for those who invested in supporter stewardship in 2023, we received reports of between £25k - £200k being raised during show week.

New audiences. RHS Chelsea offers an incredible public platform for awareness raising. One of the smaller charities we worked with in 2023 told us that in May alone they had 5,000 new visitors to their website - that’s 5,000 new people interested in a cause that they’ve not engaged with before.

New or strengthened partnerships. We have heard from many of our 2023 charities that the opportunity of having a garden at Chelsea has enabled them to strengthen corporate partnerships, relationships with significant donors, and to explore ways of working with other, like-minded organisations. For some, it has also been the launchpad for growth, and we can’t wait to see the journeys each and every one will continue on.

While we are so proud of the fundraising and supporter engagement that our investment is enabling, it’s the personal stories of the people behind the gardens that are the greatest demonstration of the impact PGB funding is making. One of the Aspens’ fundraisers said following the 2023 show:

“Seeing Reece, one of the people we support, volunteering at the show and proudly telling our visitors about how being supported by Aspens has changed his life and how excited he is to have the garden return to his home when it is rebuilt, was an absolute highlight. It represented the most important part of being involved with the project - empowering the people we support to feel a part of such a prestigious event. We’re very excited as the next exciting chapter of the garden begins as it returns to our site in Kent where the beautiful, sensory garden will provide a therapeutic haven to our whole community and be an invaluable asset to our charity for many years to come.”

A purposeful relocation plan is built into every garden application and we are committed to ensuring that as many gardens as possible live on to offer spaces for learning, recovery, respite and solace. The headteacher at Alec Reed Academy, one of the schools where Harry Holding’s School Food Matters Garden was relocated to, said:

"All of our children are in need of a little extra TLC. Amid the busyness of day-to-day life, this garden is somewhere the children will be able to find small pockets of inner silence which will allow healing and help them to feel more positive, productive and to be kind.”

The outcomes that have been achieved to date have exceeded our expectations and we were therefore thrilled to announce in October 2023 that, with the generous extended funding commitment from our founding philanthropists, we will continue funding gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show until 2026. This updates our initial goal of funding 42 gardens across three years to 60 gardens over five years.  

We also look ahead with excitement to 2024 where we will be supporting a further 15 charitable organisations at RHS Chelsea, all of which will be repurposed or relocated at permanent locations across the UK. The show and sanctuary gardens have already been announced and you can find out more here, and the 6 All About Plants gardens will be unveiled on 8 January so do look out for those.

As we reflect on 2023, the second full year of Project Giving Back funding for gardens for good causes, it is impossible to ignore the increasingly challenging world we are sharing. The opportunity Project Giving Back gives charities is also a big undertaking and responsibility and their teams need to be applauded for the lengths they all go to in attempting to make the most of it - if you are interested in supporting a charity this festive season, or as a part of your commitments in the new year, I invite you to check out the charities we’ve worked with over the past two years and become a supporter of one of them.

We hope that our unique project is inspiring people everywhere to give back in creative and meaningful ways. I truly believe we all have the capacity to make a difference, and as 2023 draws to a close, and we prepare ourselves for the fresh start a new year always brings, I am thankful for my personal involvement in this incredible project and would like to extend thanks on behalf of the whole PGB team to all those who have and are bringing gardens to good causes to life so that more people may enjoy a garden of their own.

Learn more on our homepage

http://givingback.org.uk/

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