Sunderland garden centre which supports those with disabilities and mental health issues receives boost in funding

Garden centre and social enterprise, Sunderland Home Grown CIC, has received £63,000 in loan funding from The Big Issue’s investment arm, Big Issue Invest.

Sunderland Home Grown CIC is a social enterprise trading as a garden centre, providing opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems through training and employment opportunities, as well as promoting social and therapeutic horticulture.

The group, which currently has more than 101 formal members and 408 supporters, hopes the cash will help it expand its operations on to a second site, increasing the number of people it can support.

From its base in Thompson Park, where it has been working since 2017, it offers people with learning disabilities experience managing working plant nurseries, vegetable gardens and landscaping.

Sunderland Home Grown CIC

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There is also the chance to try out retail at its garden centre, which sells a “huge amount” of summer and spring bedding hanging baskets and perennials.

Workshops are on offer throughout the year, with wares also available to but at North East landmarks including Durham Cathedral and Lumley Castle.

It is currently supporting 63 young people with learning disabilities to achieve certificates in horticulture, as well as helping a further 11 young people find jobs within the wider horticultural and retail sector.

Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, said: “We are so pleased to be able to support an organisation such as Sunderland Home Grown. The work it does in its community is invaluable, not only does it train and support people with mental health problems and Learning Disabilities to thrive in their professional and personal lives, but it breaks down social barriers and stigmas. I know they will go from strength to strength.”

Debbie Byers, Manager and Director of Sunderland Home Grown, said: “It is good that we have managed to secure the loan investment that we needed from Big Issue Invest to enable us to develop our business and we are very excited about growing our organisation so we can provide even greater support and opportunities to people with mental health problems and Learning Disabilities within our community.”

To find out more about Big Issue Invest, or how your organisation could receive similar support as Sunderland Home Grown CIC, visit:

To find out more about Sunderland Home Grown CIC, visit:

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