Scotswood Natural Community Garden, Branching Out

Gaining skills and confidence through gardening

Scotswood in Newcastle Upon Tyne is among the most deprived areas of the UK. Rates of unemployment and child poverty loom high above the national average. Although there is some employability training on offer, many of the young people in the area don’t have the confidence or opportunity to access it.

For an employment project to get results, it needed to approach things a bit differently. That’s exactly what the ‘Branching Out’ programme did.

Scotswood Natural Community Garden is an award-winning community organisation based in the heart of the local neighbourhood. They provide a range of education, support, training, health and wellbeing services from their stunning forest gardens and meadows.

In 2018, we gave a grant of £8,415 to their Branching Out project, helping 16 to 21 year olds gain the skills and experience they need to move into work or training.

  • The 7 young people who completed the programme have all made progress towards further study or employment, either volunteering or training.
  • Participants felt that Branching Out had helped them to develop their confidence, team work and communication skills.

About the Branching Out project

The programme of activities includes beginner gardening courses to help to build confidence and skills, work experience in the community garden, accredited horticulture and employability training, as well as mental health support using social and therapeutic gardening.

Branching Out participants benefit from:

  • 48 weekly group sessions a year in the community garden
  • At least 4 individual information, advice and guidance sessions a year
  • Access to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.


“Working and learning surrounded by nature has so many benefits,” says Soma, Kusuma Trust’s Executive Trustee. “We gave a grant from our small grants programme to Scotswood Community Garden because we believe it’s a really effective place for young people to gain new skills and confidence. An important side effect of this training is the positive impact on mental health that comes from being in such calm and inspiring surroundings.”

“X’s confidence has grown heaps. He’s making friends and wanting to participate with others, being proud of what he’s doing and achieving. His behaviour and manner at home is calmer, [Branching Out] helped with his sleep, his routine – and his frustrations, which impacts on the whole family.”
Mother of a Branching Out participant

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