Sensory Garden Update

With a further £10,000 of funding secured this week through the Greggs Foundation Large Environment Fund, Mark Honan (Business and Finance Director) updates us on the story of the sensory garden so far…

The garden areas have always been a great feature of our Church Lane site.  Stretching around three sides of the building, the grounds have already been improved by the installation of three garden cabins, a trampoline and a plantation area that includes a raised planting bed (accessible for wheelchair users).  Now they are set to become even better with the installation of a sensory garden to the west side of the building.

A sensory garden will deliver many benefits to our service users- not only for people attending Church Lane, but also for those attached to other bases who come to the centre for music therapy, physiotherapy or to use the sensory room.  Our aim is to create an outside space that is aesthetically pleasing and stimulates the senses, but is also relaxing, therapeutic, interactive, and helps people exercise and deploy muscle control.

The sensory garden has been a long time in the planning – it was on our wish list even before we moved into the Church Lane premises as a council service back in 2014.  At that point, we had little conception of how much such a project would cost, or how convoluted the path to completion would be.

We originally secured £36k capital funding through Wandsworth Council but when we went out to tender for the project there were no takers as the money was nowhere near enough for the work that needed to be done.  But then we heard about Groundwork, a charity specialising in creating community spaces.  They could design the garden, tender for contractors and project manage the installation.  Even better, they were able to fundraise for additional funds.  We were on our way!

Groundwork did an initial design, with a project cost of £66,636.  A detailed topographic survey was then commissioned, which revealed that the budget had to be increased even further in order to complete the project.  This meant we had quite a fundraising task ahead of us.

Our first success was in being nominated for an award under Tesco’s bags of help scheme, which converts all of those 5p payments for plastic carrier bags into awards for community projects.  Our sensory garden made the Tesco shortlist and went to a public vote.  We managed to get 2nd place and a funding award of £10,000.

A few weeks later we were awarded £19,430 from Postcode Local.  The Trust had received over 300 applications and competition for funding was very intense.  Being selected represents a great endorsement by Postcode Locals trustees of the value and importance of both our project and our organisation.

This week we have received confirmation of a further award of £10,000 from the Greggs Foundation Large Environmental Fund.  This Fund offers grants to not for profit organisations which make a difference to local areas, with preference given to projects that involve and benefit people who are disadvantaged.  This latest award, together with other initiatives (such as the £750 raised by our Reading half marathon runners) takes us a long way towards the funding required.  There is now enough in the pot to enable Groundwork to undertake detailed planning and timetabling of Phase 1 of the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this summer.  Phase 1 will include full landscaping of the area, together with the installation of some of the sensory items needed.

As and when further funding comes in, additional sensory features will be added, till we have a fabulous space that can be fully enjoyed by all our service users.  If you would like to help fundraise for this project please contact us on 020 3096 9133 or email us at  Online donations can be made via Just Giving at  or text SENG21 £5 to 70070 to donate £5.


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