Our friends over at the Lambeth Gardening Group are seeking Londoners whose lives have been affected by mental health problems, that are interested in becoming part of an intimate, green-fingered team. Helen Lees, who established the group 13 years ago, shares what creations they've come up with and whats still yet to come.

I’m a local resident  and have lived next to the park - which is next to Lambeth Palace - for the last 21 years.

I came here when SE1 was still somewhat of a mystery. Back then the park was pretty neglected. Not long after volunteering for a few gardening tasks, I found myself elected as Chair and have been ever since - 13 years to be exact!

Our gardening club started about 6 years ago, back when we were just making a few raised beds to grow vegetables in. Kevin Poulton, an employee of SLaM, approached me in the garden one day and suggested bringing a few people to help that he thought would enjoy and benefit from being outdoors. 

They loved the digging and planting and so continued to join us in the garden for the following few weeks. Before we knew it we had our friendly, little gardening group!

The park is so different now; we've created many new areas including an orchard, an apiary, a pond, more gardens and a wildlife meadow.

Activities are very relaxed, and people tend to come here for a bit of peace and quite away from the daily bustle of the big city. 

We start each meet up with a warm cuppa, then there's the chance to share with the group any news or how you're feeling with the rest of the group - only if you want to that is.

Then we chose a garden to work on - this tends to include pruning, planting or a general tidy up. Sometimes there's veg or herbs to harvest, and in the Autumn there are juicy apples too!

In regards to the future, we are working on developing an allotment in the land next door, so we can grow more soft fruit and veg. And maybe if we're lucky, a poly tunnel and greenhouse. They're all exciting possibilities and will enable us to have a greater variety in growing season!

If you're free on Friday afternoons, then please help look after this beautiful green space in Archbishops Park - a short walk from St Thomas Hospital and Lambeth North station.

Helen Lees leads each group, and is an experienced gardener – she makes sure everyone feels welcome and have a chance to enjoy the tranquil and calm outdoor space. No gardening knowledge is necessary!

For more information or to become a member please contact Helen Lees on 07981908919 or Sarah McDonald on 020 3228 6820 or by email.

Find out about more local group and services here.

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