Big Issue Invest

Sunderland-based social enterprise, dedicated to providing opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, receives £63,000 in funding

Sunderland Home Grown CIC is a social enterprise trading as a Garden Centre which provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems by creating training and employment opportunities as well as promoting social and therapeutic horticulture.

Local 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 which provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems by creating training and employment opportunities as well as promoting social and therapeutic horticulture.

Sunderland Home Grown is female led and has a strong commitment to the community. From the start the organisation has put the local needs at the forefront which has helped the organisation gain over 101 formal members and 408 supporters. The new funding will help Sunderland Home Grown develop a second site for its for its current operations. 

Its mission is to empower and create meaningful opportunities for people with learning disabilities to reach their full potential in life. As well as helping to break down the stigma and discrimination faced by people with physical and learning disabilities.

Adult learners on site go through a structured learning programme based around horticulture activities and are supported by health mentors. The focus is on practical and emotional support which enables participants to access further opportunities to enrich their lives.

Currently, Sunderland Home Grown is supporting 63 young people with Learning Disabilities to achieve their certification in horticulture, as well as helping 11 young people with Learning Disabilities gain employment within the wider Horticultural and Retail sector.

A key beneficiary of this service is Michelle, 42. Michelle has additional needs which impact on her mental health and her ability to make social connections.   After years of trying supported programmes and finding it difficult to settle Michelle came to Sunderland Home Grown in September 2017. Starting at only two hours per week she progressed to three full days and travels independently to and from the Garden Centre.  Her social relationships have improved as well as her confidence and mental health. Michelle enjoys her work at Sunderland Home Grown CIC and now has a real passion for horticulture.  She has now started her journey in accreditation Level 1 Vocational Studies and progressed to part-time work onsite.

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, please visit: https://www.bigissue.com/invest/

To find out more about Sunderland Home Grown CIC, visit: https://www.sunderlandhomegrown.co.uk/

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