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Growing Better Lives conference embraces Gardens of Sanctuary

The UK is full of gardens, farms, city farms and other growing spaces. Imagine if more and more of them became places of welcome for sanctuary seekers, where people could come together to share ideas, knowledge, food; where people could go to find safety and friendship. That is the vision behind the Gardens of Sanctuary project being coordinated by City of Sanctuary, Social Farms and Gardens and the Permaculture Association.

Ben Margolis from City of Sanctuary and Sophie Antonelli from Social Farms and Gardens presented the results of some research they have been doing to the Growing Better Lives conference in Manchester last week. They have found a huge willingness from growing spaces of all sizes to become places of sanctuary and will be launching a report and some training materials later this year to help this become a reality.

The project has so far carried out two online surveys showing a huge desire from growing spaces and refugee and asylum organisations to work together to develop therapeutic, learning and integration opportunities. The surveys also identified several barriers including a lack of knowledge from growing spaces about how to engage with asylum seekers, and concerns over language barriers, trauma and offering appropriate support.

There was a fantastic response from people at the conference towards the idea and particular interest from some flagship gardens including the new RHS garden in Manchester and Sydenham Gardens in London, and from academics and policy makers.

To find out more about the project please register your interest at

Or e-mail Ben at [email protected]