T r u s t   L i n k s

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Trust Links is a local charity that aims to support people and build communities. Please explore our website and learn more about how a derelict piece of land in Southend-on-sea was transformed into a community garden and the services it now provides to the local population.
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St Laurence Orchard Working Party Days

Trust Links is running a Working Party Day at the historic St Laurence Orchard on certain Mondays at 10 am to 3 pm and is inviting members of the public to come along and join in. Working Party Days will be held monthly, leading up to Apple Day in October. Working Party Days are open to anybody interested in helping maintain the historic St Laurence Orchard, use their existing skills, learn new skills and meet like-minded people. Hot drinks, tools and instruction will be provided. Participants will need to bring their own lunch and appropriate clothing!

Working Party Days are being held 10 am to 3 pm on the following dates:

  • Monday 2nd March
  • Monday 13th April
  • Monday 11th May
  • Monday 1st June
  • Monday 6th July
  • Monday 3rd August: Big Bug Day. Families Welcome!
  • Monday 7th September
  • Monday 5th October

The Working Party Days are organised by Trust Links as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project at St Laurence Orchard, which is located on Eastwoodbury Lane on the corner with St Laurence Way. Just come for some of the day if you can’t manage it all!

For more information please call 01702 213134.

Members Announcements

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Potato Day, 21st February 2015

We once again held the annual Potato Day and another very successful day it proved, helped by bright sunshine on a cool February day, raising over £300 for our charity.

250 people came on the day and purchased their seed potatoes, onion sets, jacket potatoes and homemade cakes. The children enjoyed visiting the chickens, potato printing and exploring the Growing Together garden. South East Essex Organic Gardeners organised the day in partnership with Trust Links.

A-Wassailing sunny Sunday! -

The first wassailing day to be held in South East Essex for many years was a great success as more than 200 people joined Trust Links, the Southend-based mental health charity to celebrate their Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage grant at St Laurence Orchard in Eastwoodbury Lane.
Matt King, Chief Executive Officer of Trust Links said 'It was fantastic to see so many people joining us at the St Laurence Orchard to revive the tradition of wassailing. With such a great start, the Heritage Lottery funded project can only be successful and I can't wait to see how our members, staff and volunteers at Growing Together can tend and nurture this vital green space and create a wonderful oasis and wildlife habitat. We are keen for local people to volunteer on our monthly working parties at the Orchard to learn new skills and meet like-minded people.’

Raising skills at Growing Together

Green fingered members at our garden in Westcliff have good cause to celebrate. They have successfully completed a qualification in Horticulture and the Mayor of Southend, councillor Chris Walker, visited the garden to present them with their certificates.

Ten members of the Growing Together garden sites in Fairfax Drive and Shoeburyness undertook the year long course, in which a tutor from Southend Adult Community College worked with them at the garden on practical and written tasks. Having completed the course, the members have been awarded a Level 1 diploma in Horticulture.

“The members who completed the course have all experienced mental health problems so achieving the qualification is a very positive step for them. This qualification has not only helped with horticultural knowledge, but has built the confidence and self esteem of those that have completed it.” said Matt King, Chief Executive.

Trust Links is offering another Level 1 Horticulture course at its Shoeburyness site in Elm Road during the course of 2015. The free course requires a commitment of two days a week, one day training and one day practical work in the garden. It begins after Easter. For more details, contact the Trust Links office on 01702 213134 or email office@trustlinks.org.

Trust Links has reason to celebrate too as it has just been awarded a PQASSO Level 1 accreditation which is endorsed by the Charities Commission. The PQASSO quality mark is only awarded after rigorous external assessment. It indicates that an organisation is run as effectively and efficiently within its resources and has the best possible outcomes for staff and users.

Peter Payne, Chair of Trust Links Board, said  “All staff and volunteers have worked hard to achieve the PQASSO accreditation, which demonstrates the effectiveness, quality and credibility of Trust Links.”

'Meet The Street' at Growing Together

Can be viewed on the BBC website - click here
(See article below)
It was lights, camera, action recently at our Westcliff community garden when presenters James Martin and Dom Littlewood visited the site. The pair were there to record an episode of a brand new show for BBC One, called Operation Meet The Street. Southend born Dom Littlewood (Cowboy Builders & Don’t Get Done Get Dom) returned to his home town with James to see the ways in which local charities and groups can help reduce loneliness and isolation. A celebratory Afternoon Tea was held by Trust Links at their Growing Together garden on Fairfax Drive, bringing together all of the people that Dom and James met through the programme. Growing Together is an award winning community garden working with adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities, which improves quality of life, social inclusion, mental health and work prospects. Producers of the programme felt it was the ideal venue for the celebration event, as the project embodies the TV programme’s aims of bringing people together to build a stronger community.
James Martin
Dom Littlewood

During the day Dom and James met the members, staff and volunteers at Growing Together to hear their stories and find out how their lives had been improved by their time at the project.  Matt King, Chief Executive of Trust Links said: “It was great to have James Martin, Dom Littlewood and the film crew with us for the day at Growing Together. They enjoyed looking around the garden and the Afternoon Tea was wonderful, thanks to the hard work of our members and volunteers. James even gave us cooking tips on the vegetables we grow at the community garden and our members enjoyed posing for photos with Dom. We look forward to watching the programme on BBC One.” In the brand new series, Operation Meet The Street, James Martin spearheads a nationwide campaign designed to bring communities together and tackle the growing issue of loneliness in the UK. James invites five celebrities to go back to the street they grew up on to find out who lives there now and help them set up a real social network. As well as Dom Littlewood in Southend, other celebrities will be Alex Jones (The One Show) Dave Myers (Hairy Bikers), Helen Skelton (Holiday Hit  Squad, Blue  Peter) and Denise Lewis OBE (Olympic Gold medallist). Operation Meet The Streets begins on BBC One on Monday 15th December at 9:15am and the Growing Together garden will be seen in the episode on  Wednesday 17th December.

Staff, Members and Volunteers with Dom and James

Christmas Open Day makes £750

Growing Together was full of Christmas cheer on Saturday 17th November at our Christmas Open Day. More than 150 people came to the gardens and enjoyed meeting Father Christmas and Mother Christmas, joining in with carols and buying crafts, vegetables and honey. Volunteers helped serve homemade mince pies, turkey rolls and vegetable soup. The sun came out and visitors enjoyed looking around the garden and meeting the chickens. The Open Day made more than £750, which is a record for a Growing Together event. Growing Together provides positive activities for adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities. Christmas is a difficult time for many people – Growing Together brings people together in a supportive and nurturing environment. Members have enjoyed making wreaths and decorating the site.


Growing Heritage Together

Love Blossoms in the Garden

Love has blossomed amongst the trees and vegetables at Trust Links Growing Together garden in Westcliff. Members Tracy Showell and Steve Turner tied the knot on Thursday 23rd October after meeting at the garden five years ago.
Following a ceremony at the Civic Centre in Southend, they celebrated their marriage in the garden with other members and volunteers of the charity.

This is the first wedding amongst its members and so it was only fitting that the venue for the reception was the very garden where Tracy and Steve met. Fellow members organised the catering and arranged the flowers for the happy couple who now look forward to growing together.

Our hens get more room to roam

Our new hens now have more space to rummage
after the construction of a large chicken run.
Built by our own volunteers it is satisfying to see them spread their wings!


Shoeburyness site latest

Growing Together Shoeburyness is barely recognisable with the graffiti art near the entrance designed and painted by the Dig It Youth group (meets on Mondays 4 pm – 6 pm), raised beds and decking built by Johnsons Control and excellent vegetable patches and herbaceous border tended by members and volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Women’s Only Group is proving very popular on a Wednesday afternoon (2 pm – 4pm) and to date the group have enjoyed yoga, flower arranging, BBQ, craft and sewing. Our school groups start again on Mondays (Friars Primary School) and Fridays (Shoeburyness High School) so the garden will be watered and tended and they will no doubt enjoy discovering the increasing biodiversity around the pond and observing the bees as they settle into their home with the two new hives provided by Essex Bees. Our Community Garden Days once a month on a Saturday have been busy, with a group of young carers attending the last one to build bug houses and a tepee from multicoloured wool! We are grateful to Shoebury Fair who designated us as their charity of the year and St Andrew’s Church for donating the proceeds of their Horticultural Show to Growing Together Shoeburyness. Do visit to see what’s changed!

Apple Day at the Orchard

Southend Apple Day at St Laurence Orchard was really successful, with 150 people attending, lots of activities and the sun was out most of the day! There were 50 different varieties of apples for people to taste, juicing, children’s craft and a good chance to explore the orchard.



The latest newsletter is available to view online to members - click on '(More)>Users' tab


BBC Essex

Our Chief Exec Matt appears on BBC Essex radio:-


 © BBC Essex    

Have you visited our shop?

 We have a shop selling produce & goods



Vegetables that we sell, fresh from our plot, this year include broad beans, beetroot, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, leeks, runner and French beans, courgettes, chard, spinach, tomatoes, cabbages, kale and broccoli.


Registered Charity Number 1092324