Volunteer with Us

What is volunteering all about?

  • Gardening and growing plants and vegetables
  • Learning new skills – at your own pace
  • Keeping fit
  • Making friends
  • Pulling together as part of a team
  • Being able to take home fresh, healthy veg to eat
  • Gaining work experience and/ or confidence and self-esteem
  • Feeling happy and well

ActivGardens offers placements and volunteering opportunities for young people and adults of all abilities, with facilities for wheelchair users. We offer a range of horticultural activities in the safe, welcoming environment of the People’s Community Garden and/ or Chantry Walled Garden, at a pace to suit the individual. We have plenty of under-cover tasks in our extensive glasshouses, growing plants for Ipswich Borough Council and other clients.

We also run a plant nursery, open to the general public, specialising in plants which are good for pollinators and wildlife-friendly gardening.

 People taking part in our project can tend their own mini veg plot, or help maintain our extensive flower and vegetable-growing borders across both sites.

In addition to gardening, you can take part in beekeeping, conservation, specialist workshops and events, including our produce market and community café. Both gardens have a tea room for a cuppa and a chat, and areas for crafts and IT.

 ActivSheds is a workshop for woodwork and construction activities, such as making hedgehog homes, bird boxes and insect hibernacula.

Both gardens have opportunities for wheelchair users to get involved.

Although there is no pressure on people to undertake qualifications, we do offer opportunities for keen gardeners to work towards AQA certificates in horticulture and related topics. No experience of gardening is required, but we ask our participants and their support workers to come dressed in gear suitable for gardening (ie not best or new clothes and coats) – waterproofs/ warm gear in winter; hat and long sleeves with sun protection in summer. You are advised to wear Personal Protective Equipment – usually safety boots and gloves. We do have gear to lend, but participants might like to bring their own.

Sessions are supervised by staff with qualifications in horticulture and teaching, as well as relevant experience of working in social care and/ or with people with complex needs. They are supported by key volunteers.

 Who to contact

Susannah Robirosa
ActivGardens Development Manager, ActivLives

To find out more, book an appointment to look around or arrange a free taster session, or to discuss a referral, please call:

Activlives Office – 01473 345350
Or Susannah – 07530 407302 or email susannah@activlives.org.uk


Where to go

People’s Community Garden, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE

Chantry Walled Garden, Chantry Park, Hadleigh Road, Ipswich, IP2 0BS

Age Groups 14-18 and 19+

Area served Ipswich and surrounding areas


No transport is available but we can help with an application to Suffolk Community Transport. Regular bus services stop near both gardens.

 Restrictions to access

Session are supervised by a qualified member of staff. Participants must come with their required level of support if necessary. Although we are upgrading the site for full disabled access, it is not yet suitable for people with high levels of need or severe physical disabilities.

Days and Times

Mon- Fri 9am to 3pm.
Half day 9am-12 noon or 12-3pm.
Bespoke/ one to one sessions can be organised, by arrangement.

What to bring

Dress for outdoor work – we go ahead whatever the weather so please dress accordingly! You might like to bring your own gloves and safety boots, although we do have some to lend. Bring a packed lunch if you are staying for the day. We have basic facilities to heat up food, as well as tea and coffee-making facilities. There are local shops in walking distance of the sites.


Cost for staff-led sessions tailored to individual ability

  • £45 per day/ £25 per half day
  • Incorporating AQA Unit Awards – £75 per day or £45 per half day/ part day, plus small one-off registration fee of around £20.
  • One to one sessions: £20 per hour


More information

On a first visit, you will be shown around and meet our friendly staff team and volunteers. If you would like to try us out, you will be invited for a taster session, entirely free. If you would like to attend on a regular basis, an induction day will be set up, when our Skills Trainer will have an informal chat to find out the sort of activities you might enjoy, as well as register you to the project and take you through a health and safety induction. An Individual Risk Assessment will be carried out if necessary.  


Parking for the People’s Community Garden is on surrounding roads or at the CRESS Pavilion, when open. Please phone ahead for disabled access onto allotment site.

Parking for the walled garden is in the public car park in Chantry Park – from Hadleigh Road, turn into the park and then right at the top of the driveway, as you face the mansion, and right again into the car park. From the car park, turn right and follow the wall through the park to a wooden orchard gate leading to a boardwalk, which leads through a green iron gate into the walled garden itself. There are regular buses which stop right outside the site (Number 91 Sudbury bus and Ipswich buses go as far as Dickens Road). The site is a pleasant walk across the park from residential areas the other side of London Road and off Hadleigh Road.

For disabled parking, please call Susannah on 07530 407302.

Accreditation details

We are accredited as a service provider by Suffolk County Council on its Framework for the Provision of Adult Care Services, Learning Disabilities, Day, Evening, Weekend and Planned Breaks, CD1241

Gain Work Experience

ActivLives People’s Community Garden offers work placements to people who enjoy gardening and would like to gain experience of working on a busy community site, alongside professional staff and experienced volunteers.

The garden offers a range of horticultural experience, making it an ideal environment to learn the basics of garden maintenance, vegetable growing, and indoor and outdoor plant production, relating to nursery work. We have a heritage orchard to practise pruning methods, and well-stocked borders to learn how to maintain plants and take cuttings.

Our Wildlife Area will enable you to learn what’s involved in maintaining habitats, including ponds and wildflower meadow. You can also get involved in construction tasks, and learn how to use machinery to help with garden upkeep.

We Welcome Schools

The People’s Community Garden is an exciting outdoor learning resource which is available to schools. We have a team of professional staff, with horticultural and teaching qualifications, who can organise and lead school visits on a one-off or regular basis. Visiting the garden is an ideal way to complement your work towards Healthy Schools or Eco-Schools status, and visits can be arranged to enhance curriculum learning in science, arts and humanities.

This year, our schools project is:

  • The Future Garden Project Step into another dimension . . . to grow veg in straw bales or lasagne-style, and learn about high-rise gardens and how you can grow vertically. Take part in weaving a composting basket and building a hot house out of plastic bottles – start saving your bottles: we need 1,500 two-litre bottles. Do you have any unwanted umbrellas we can turn into rain-catchers to water our garden? We will be digging, preparing the ground, and sowing and planting some weird and wonderful crops.

Last year, more than 300 schoolchildren built a garden celebrating London 2012 Olympic Games. They created the five Olympic rings out of natural and recycled materials, and grew crops representing the five continents participating in the Games. We had a geodesic ‘Vegetable Dreaming’ dome, representing Australasia, built a keyhole garden for the Africa ring, planted Asian vegetable boxes, brought in hundreds of green bottles to hang around the Americas ring, and made gold medals with yellow and orange flowers for the European ring.

Please contact Cynthia if you would like to take part in the Future Garden project or book a visit to the garden. She will send out a booking form. School visits are charged at a minimum of £1 per child for groups of 30+ visiting for a maximum of two hours. For smaller groups, or longer visits, charges should be agreed in advance with a member of the administration team.

Patchwork Gardening

Would you like to garden but don’t have space at home? Would you like a piece of land of your own, but don’t have time to keep on top of a full-size allotment plot? If so, we can help you. You can sign up for a patchwork plot at the community garden for just £20 per year. For this, you will be given a key to the main allotment gates, so you can access your plot evening and weekends, when the project is shut, and a toilet key.

When we are open, we can give advice, lend tools and offer a cuppa. You may be a young family with children, an older person who needs a hand, or someone who needs a bit of encouragement to start gardening. In time, you may feel confident enough to put your name down for a half or full-size plot on Maidenhall Allotments. Please contact Susannah if you are interested in taking on a patchwork plot at the community garden.


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ActivLives is a local charity, which relies on grants, trusts, donations, fundraising activities, sponsorship & commissions to enable us to provide & develop our services across Ipswich & Suffolk.