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.

Goodbye Milton Hall

Today was Milton Hall’s last day at Growing Together. It has been a pleasure to have groups coming every Friday for 3 ½ years to learn through gardening, cooking, eating together, building dens and bug hotels, nurturing seeds and learning how to work effectively as an individual and a team. Today the children told me that they had particularly enjoyed looking after the chickens, planting, learning how the plants grow, eating the lunches, trying new food and enjoying time with their friends and teachers. The children said that it has been great fun, making them feel happy and excited to come to Growing Together and it has helped them become more independent and confident. The children said that it’s a fantastic place to learn and it helps make people’s lives even better! We will miss them!

Free Family Fun at the Big Bug day!



   Free family activity day 

    at St Laurence Orchard 

    Monday 3rd August,  11am-2pm 

Explore the orchard ,  join in with bug hunting and nature activities. 

No need to book , just drop in anytime between 11am and 2pm 

Sailing Together — at Southend Marine Activities Centre

It's not all gardening. Members and staff had a great time trying sailing and kayaking at Southend Marine Activities Centre. For most people it was their first time and they are hoping it’s not their last!


FREE short courses - sign up today!

Trust Links has teamed up with SEEVIC College to offer FREE short courses this summer! Sign up today and learn new skills for a great summer.

We are delighted to have formed a new partnership with Seevic College and are looking forward to running free short courses with the college over the summer.

The courses, for adult learners aged 19 years and above, are in drama, garden design, outdoor crafts and growing vegetables.

If you want to be the next Alan Titchmarsh, then the Garden Design for Beginners course is for you. Discover what to grow, where to plant and how to manage a beautiful garden on a budget in our five week short course at the beautiful Growing Together Garden in Westcliff.

Alternatively you may want to turn your garden into a productive plot. In that case, our Grow Your Own Veg course is what you need. Learn how to feed off the land at a fraction of the price of buying vegetables in the supermarkets. Over six weeks at Seevic College you’ll learn the skills for a successful and healthy vegetable patch.

To complement our Grow Your Own Veg course there will be a special session on 18 August at Seevic College to introduce the whole family to the joys of growing your own. This one-off workshop will encourage everyone from toddler to granny to get growing. The minimum age for this event is four years and an adult of 19 years + must accompany any children. 

Growing Together Westcliff will host another family day on 24 July: Outdoor Crafts. Enjoy the summer sun and learn some fun craft activities in the Community Garden on Fairfax Drive. This is followed by short outdoor craft sessions of four Friday mornings throughout August. Youngsters and their carers will also enjoy Family Craft Days at Seevic College on Wednesday afternoons in the summer.

All the courses are free but need to be booked. To book your place on Trust Links courses or to find out about the other free courses running during the summer at Seevic College, please click here


Shipping container arrives at our Shoeburyness site!

Hyde Hall trip June 2015

Growing Together members and volunteers and Breakthrough Carers had a lovely day out at RHS Hyde Hall. The rain held off until we got on the coach to come back to Southend! It was fantastic to see Luke, who is doing brilliantly on his RHS traineeship at Hyde Hall – we are so proud to see people progressing at Growing Together and moving on to pastures new! Luke even has his own vegetable plot at Hyde Hall and he enjoyed showing us what he has achieved.

May Fayre - Saturday 16th May 2015

What a fabulous day we had on Saturday at our May Fayre. Thank you so much to everyone who came along to buy plants or to discover the garden for the first time or to bag some free compost. Special thanks to Waitrose for attending with their tombola and to the Mudlark Community Choir and Keith Baxter for providing great music and Essex Bees for explaining all about bee keeping. A big thank you too to all our wonderful volunteers without whom we could not run such a successful event. We raised the magnificent total of £1140, money that will go towards improving the well being of people across Southend experiencing mental health issues.

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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.

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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

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!



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