Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge. Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco’s 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March 2016 on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.


a regular visitor Chantry Garden - new facilities will offer more opportunitiesOur gardening project for older people, Carry On Gardening!, has been selected to receive a grant – it’s up to you to decide how much. Carry on Gardening! will offer opportunities to older people to get active and hands on, planting and tending herbs, vegetables and flowers to help them improve mobility, relax and enhance mood, as well as provide opportunities for socialising, sharing skills and stimulating memory. Led by professional staff and supported by volunteers, a special accessible garden will be developed in in the historic walled garden in Chantry Park, Ipswich – already a vibrant community resource. £8,000 will help us turn a derelict area into a Sensory Garden and upgrade access into and around the garden so more areas are accessible to people in wheelchairs and older people with mobility problems. Additional funds up to £12,000 would enable us to extend wheelchair accessible paths, as well as purchase sensory plants, compost and specialist equipment to enable older people to Carry on Gardening!

Access into the walled garden is unsuitable for wheelchair access – and indeed for older people in general – especially in poor, wet weather. People who support others in wheelchairs have problems pushing them over the path and so are unable to come in poor conditions. The area of the garden we would like to renovate is completely derelict – just an open space with weeds and earth.

Chantry Walled Garden is an historic site that used to be the vegetable garden supplying the family of the grand mansion situated in the grounds of the parkland which surrounds it. In more recent times, the walled garden was used by Ipswich Borough Council for growing its stock. In 2011, ActivLives began to renovate the site with volunteers and work placements from the local community, filling the glasshouses with plants for sale, planting up the borders, and building new areas for community use. There is still much work to be done, especially to enable older people to get involved.

Visitor from Sue Ryder Care enjoy the garden

In the past year, residents of Chantry Neurological Care Centre, based in Chantry Park, have come to volunteer at Chantry Walled Garden on a regular basis and have thoroughly enjoyed getting out into the fresh air and doing something useful and pleasurable. Their support workers also enjoy their time at the garden. In 2015, ActivGardens were asked to deliver table-top gardening sessions as part of Sue Ryder ‘s 5R’s programme for people with MS and survivors of stroke.

Anecdotal evidence from participants across these opportunities has been very positive: “It’s good to do something useful” – Sue; “Thank you, you have put me back on track for gardening.” – Marion. Stuart, who was due to move out of the Centre, is keen to come back and do more gardening.

Neurological Centre Director Jo Marshall said (23 February 2015): “The Chantry Neurological Care Centre supports people across Suffolk. It has 30 residential beds providing slow-stream rehabilitation for people aged from 18 years and upwards who may have had an acquired brain injury, stroke, or a progressive neurological condition such as Motor Neurone disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. People living with us long term have complex needs and severe disabilities. Physical therapies such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy play an important part in maintaining their physical health, functioning and abilities as well as their psychological and social well-being. The opportunity offered by ActivLives’ Chantry Walled Garden, which is very easily accessible to our residents, offers the chance for our residents and day service users to rekindle previous interests in gardening where they thought this may not be possible due to their current disabilities, and also opens up a possible new interest for others. It is another opportunity also to get residents out into the local community and integrating with others in a safe way with the support they need to enable them to take part in this type of activity. As well as 30 residents of which about 8-9 have indicated an initial interest, we could also offer this opportunity to day service attendees in both our neurological and dementia day service – we have up to 10 people attending daily in each service. We also run a reablement programme specifically for people with MS and a programme for stroke which we could build in the garden activity as part of the programme of therapies.” Occupational therapists supporting participants are also set to benefit, as well as carers supporting loved ones.

Sue Ryder

ActivLives main aim is to support older people to improve their health and wellbeing, and this project would embed the garden projects within the charity’s central mission and encourage more of its hundreds of older members to get involved in gardening. We run regular events, such as coffee mornings, plant sales and open days, and many older people enjoy looking round the gardens and supporting us.

Suffolk County Council research shows: 74% of people with a limiting disability in Suffolk do not undertake any sport or active recreation. The health cost of physical inactivity in Suffolk is £12.2 million per year; An older person remaining active in Suffolk and independent at home defers £11,500 per year from social care costs; Physical activity reduces the risk of mental disorders including depression, cognitive decline and dementia and improves self-perception of mental well-being, increases self-esteem, lowers likelihood of sleep disorders and enables a better ability to cope with stress.


Gardening has been shown to be beneficial for older people in many ways:

  • It is an enjoyable form of exercise and gets people out of their home/ care home into a stimulating environment
  • It increases levels of physical activity and helps mobility and flexibility
  • It encourages use of all motor skills
  • It improves endurance and strength
  • It helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis
  • It reduces stress levels and promotes relaxation
  • It provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors
  • It improves well-being as a result of social interaction
  • It can lift someone’s mood by being in touch with the natural word, hearing birds sing and seeing green, open spaces
  • It can stimulate memories and stories
  • Particular plants can stimulate sensory perception
  • It promotes skills/ knowledge share between older and younger people
  • It enables people to do something useful and feel satisfaction in contributing to their community
  • It can provide nutritious, home-grown produce

So don’t forget to vote for us in your local Tesco store from 27 February until 6 March 2016.

For more information on Bags of Help, please head to their website – www.tesco.com/bagsofhelp