Grow, a Sheffield based youth development charity, has recently received funding through the RHS Flourish Fund to promote access to horticulture.

Grow Gardeners is a paid work experience and training programme aimed at unemployed young people who are at risk of long-term unemployment due to mental ill-health and other barriers to employment.

Steven Cotton, founder of Grow, says: “ This programme not only coaches employability skills but also gives the trainees a context to put these skills into action. Many of the young people we work with struggled to access employment and had given up hope of securing work. The Grow Gardeners Team Leaders are trained in both gardening and coaching skills so are able to support young people in developing gardening skills whilst also developing essential employability skills that will equip them for their future”.

One of the current trainees is an adult in foster care. His foster carer said: “This scheme is effectively a paid work experience programme based on a social enterprise model. We really needed this kind of experience to support him before he enters the world of employment. They are sympathetic employers and take each student's needs into account whilst encouraging them to work hard and develop professional behaviours. He is really enjoying himself! He is earning money, is busy every day with regular hours, is developing his knowledge and understanding of horticulture, making new friendships, becoming more independent, taking risks, asking for help, thinking carefully about when and what to eat, going to bed earlier and sleeping better!”

Dale, one of the programme graduates said: “I learned a lot about flowers, weeds, perennials, and how to take care of them, like deadheading and pruning. It’s actual employment, so it’s helped me out through lockdown… it was good to learn new things. It’s been getting me out more than I would have so that’s been good.”

Talking about how the trainee programme has benefitted him, Dale said: “It’s got me into a set routine with going to work, so it’s helped me prepare for my future… I’d recommend Grow Gardeners to others. It’s a good start for someone who hasn’t worked before, you could definitely do Grow Gardeners and progress to whatever you want to be as it doesn’t limit you to just gardening.”

The Grow Gardeners programme has capacity for new clients in 2022 and will soon be able to offer a wider range of services including building patios, decking and planting design. To make an enquiry about the services visit