Momentum Builds For Biggest Show Garden Ever At Chelsea

  • 4 June 2021 4:56 pm


HCA, Eden Project, Homeless Link and CLG embark on ambitious project to deliver real change for homeless people

Excitement is already mounting for the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as plans for the largest show garden ever start to take shape.

The garden, entitled Places of Change, is being developed by homeless people right across the country, and has already drawn interest from around 40 homeless agencies keen to contribute towards its creation.

The Places of Change Garden is an ambitious collaboration between national housing and regeneration delivery agency, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the Eden Project, national membership charity for frontline homelessness agencies Homeless Link, and Communities and Local Government (CLG).

This partnership builds on the success of the silver medal award-winning Key Garden at Chelsea in 2009 which saw collaboration from 20 homeless agencies and 200 homeless service users involved at all stages of the Garden’s development. Participants involved consistently reported a huge confidence boost, new skills, and renewed hope for their future.

The 2010 Garden is being funded by CLG and the HCA’s Places of Change programme – a £80m capital funding programme that aims to bring about a step change in the way homeless services are perceived and challenge stereotypes around homelessness. Designed by Eden Project’s award-winning garden designer, Paul Stone, the Garden is 2.5 times the size of the Key Garden.

In developing a Show Garden of this size and scale, roles for approximately 300 services users have already been identified, with many more to follow. They will offer planting, gardening, design, construction, and carpentry during the site development, and on-site hospitality and multi-media facilities during the week of the Show. In doing so, they will develop new skills that will enable them to move onto further training and qualifications, and turn their lives around long-term.

HCA Chairman Robert Napier said: “On behalf of all the partners in the project, we are delighted to be involved with creating such a major Show Garden at Chelsea. Rather than a simple repeat of the Key Garden, we believe a project of this scale will have far greater impact in challenging the stereotypes around homelessness. Skills and knowledge will be transferred, qualifications won, and there will be many opportunities for training, positive activity and employment growing out of the project, which will make a difference to the lives of far more people.

“People who find themselves homeless have hidden talents and should not be written off. We want to show that disadvantaged people can contribute to their communities if they are given the right opportunity to find their own place of change.”

Christopher Hendrickx, a resident at The Limes supported housing run by Chapter 1 in Manchester, and a participant in the Key Garden, said, “Getting involved with the Chelsea Garden gave me much more than just an interest in horticulture. It made me more confident and helped me improve my people skills. It made us all realise that we can make a difference through gardening. We’re now working on the garden at an old people’s centre in Manchester. We’ve already cleared the ground and are going to plant vegetables and flowers. I’m feeling much more enthusiastic about the future and am hoping to start an apprenticeship and move into accommodation of my own soon”.

The Places of Change Garden will offer more opportunities for the visitor to explore and discover the stories and individual “places of change” of the people taking part. It will feature a number of designated zones such as crops and food; florestry and leisure; medicine and health; industry and manufacture; and conservation and the environment; all of which act as a metaphor for new skills and the journey embarked on by the individual to get there. The overall impression will be one of craft and enterprise and the importance of teamwork.

Adjacent to the garden there will be trade stands showcasing some of the excellent work undertaken by homeless individuals and teams, which will serve to reinforce the information about the Places of Change programme, as well as that of the participating agencies.

For details about the 2009 Key Garden, visit

Image shows Watford New Hope Trust volunteers and Paul Stone at 2009 Key Garden

The Places of Change programme is an £80m capital improvement funding programme managed by the Homes and Communities Agency, which seeks to improve services for people who are homeless. It aims to identify, encourage, engage and release their potential to enable them to move on with their lives. It encourages service users to get involved in services that will help them turn their lives around.

The programme currently funds 80 projects nationwide with a wealth of innovation that includes social enterprise initiatives such as Crisis’s Skylight cafes in Newcastle and London; a butchery and farm shop at the Pilsdon community in Dorset, as well as a variety of training activities and embedded learning such as a recording studio at Endell Street in London; and a café/training kitchen and small theatre at Leicester YMCA.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration agency for England. Our role is to create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places. We provide funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment. For more information visit

About Communities and local Government (CLG):

The Government department with responsibility for tackling homelessness and ending rough sleeping, which is providing funding for Chelsea 2010. An important part of our work on tackling rough sleeping is to extend positive activities that motivate and empower people to take greater control of their lives and the Chelsea project is a fantastic example of just that. Its focus is helping those who have been on the streets to take part in something that builds their confidence and self-esteem, and will help them get their lives back on track.

About the Eden Project:

• Eden Project Limited is owned by the Eden Trust, which is a fully registered UK Charity (No. 1093070).
• Eden is home to the two biggest greenhouses in the world – the Rainforest Biome and Mediterranean Biome.
• Since fully opening in July 2001, more than 10 million people have visited Eden and it has generated £800 million for the local economy.
• So far capital funding of £141.4 million to develop Eden has been raised from a combination of £55.5 million from the Millennium Commission Lottery Fund, £25 million from the South West Regional Development Agency, £26 million from European funds, £1 million from local and regional government (outside the RDA) and £33.9 million in the form of loans, lease finance and Eden’s own revenue generation.
• Immediate information may be obtained from our website:
Homeless Link is the national membership organisation for frontline homelessness agencies in England. Our mission is to be a catalyst that will help to bring an end to homelessness. Our two goals are:

• To raise standards in the services that support homeless people and tackle homelessness
• To influence the development of policy, strategy and investment at all levels of government.

Homeless Link’s member organisations provide services through: hostels, day centres, outreach and resettlement agencies, housing advice centres, youth projects, health projects, welfare rights groups, regional and sub-regional homelessness networks, refuges, drug and alcohol services and church groups.