May Project Gardens (MPG) started in 2007 from the council house of our Co-Founder – in memory of his mentally ill mother, when she passed, whom he’d cared for his whole life – by turning her large derelict garden into a community garden and opening it to the public. Seeing how healing this was, he wanted to mobilise others experiencing personal, social or financial hardship in the city. The site’s become a tangible example of how people can come together, with limited resources and make social change at micro level. Dozens of local volunteers worked on the site, attending weekly open days for years, making it into a recognised safe space and community education site in the borough. Over time, demand for our inclusive and creative approach to community outreach grew, leading us to formalise as a CIC in 2015 to allow us to establish more formal partnerships.
We take a holistic approach to outreach, recognising that most of our current social problems; isolation, mental health, ill health, economic insecurity, are often linked, and people need more bespoke support than statutory services can offer. We start with reconnecting people in urban environments to nature, as a means of improving their stress, anxiety, lack of community and health. Through this connection we find that people often make huge personal transformation, which quickly translates into social and economic change. We now work with youth centres, housing associations and libraries to reach people disengaged from statutory services, who need more bespoke support in order to improve their lives, personally, socially and economically. Our youth programme Hip Hop Garden (HHG) won the 2015 Team London Award for innovative work with young people. We’re a registered AQA Award Centre; a Capital Growth food growing site and members of the Community Food Growers Network.