Social Pantry Meets Thrive

Thrive is a charity which uses gardening to bring positive changes to the lives of people living with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.

Here at Social Pantry, we are proud to be socially aware and to work with local charities such as Thrive that naturally connect with our business values.  We caught up with Thrive to learn more about who they are and how they work alongside us…

What is Thrive all about?

Thrive is the leading charity in the UK that uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people who are living with disabilities or ill health, or are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.

We work with a wide range of people with a wide range of disabilities– injuries from accidents; learning impairment; mental illness, physical impairment (sight or hearing loss); age-related conditions such as dementia, heart problems, diabetes or stroke; young people who have social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Why was Thrive set up?

In 1978, Society for Horticultural Therapy and Rural Training in Frome was set up by Chris Underhill, a young horticulturist inspired by his work with people with learning disabilities and his voluntary service in Africa. He was supported by Dr Geoffrey Udall, a paediatrician who became the founding Chairman.

The focus was initially on supporting the people who were setting up and running gardening projects and on promoting the concepts of horticultural therapy, but in the mid 1980s, it widened its scope to provide services for disabled gardeners.

With increased public profile came enquiries from individuals and organisations and our information & advice service was established. In 1998, the charity became Thrive.

Tell us a bit about what you do for Social Pantry?

Social Pantry and Thrive began their relationship in December 2015, when Lucy, the café manager, popped into Thrive’s Main Garden in Battersea Park having been told about us by her friend, who volunteers with us. She was interested in whether we could provide her with some table top displays and we agreed to produce and supply 10 wooden pots, and provide new plants on a 2-weekly basis.


We know you do some great work in Battersea, what’s that all about?

From Battersea Park, we run a number of projects from our gardens supporting different groups of individuals using social and therapeutic horticulture (STH). There are 5 main benefits of STH:

  1. Better physical health:

Gardening is a form of exercise which can reduce the risk arising from specific health problems such as high blood pressure – gentle exercise to vigorous. Physical activity can also be used to rebuild strength after an accident or illness

  1. Improved mental health

Mental health improves from gaining a sense of purpose and achievement; growing can give hope and demonstrates renewal

  1. Social Engagement

Our groups provide a chance to connect with others – reducing feelings of being alone or left out and sharing experiences in a safe environment

  1. Being in Nature

Known as the Biofillia effect, feeling better for being outdoors, in touch with nature and seeing plants grow – all things that are known to be important to us as human beings

  1. Gaining New Skills

Our client gardeners learn new skills or can study for a nationally recognised qualification in Horticulture – this can boost self-confidence and self-esteem and provide a way into employment.

What’s the best part of working with Thrive?

My favourite aspect is seeing our clients make progress and the sense of wonder and achievement they gain from seeing a little seed they sowed peep through the soil and develop into a plant (I get real joy from that too!). I also love that my “office” is set in beautiful gardens!

What do the participants love the most about Thrive?

In their words:

“When I am at Thrive, the vicious circle of anxiety and negative thoughts disappears…it makes a real difference.”

“I like hard work and have found something that calms me and can be a good workout. I enjoy keeping fit… I never really thought about making a living from gardening, but Thrive has made realise I could…”

“I enjoy planting different plants, talking and meeting different people and being out of the house”

You’re soon going to be supplying table top plants for an upcoming event, how did that come about?

The catering team were preparing for a large corporate event and their client noticed Thrive on Social Pantry’s website and was very interested in the concept. Lucy, the café manager, passed our details on and we were then approached asking if we could provide some plant pots to dress the space and further raise awareness of Thrive.

How can others get involved?

You can come and visit us in Battersea Park and buy your own plant pot, plants and herbs! We are always keen to get more volunteers to work on our sales kiosk or to support our client gardeners too.  Drop us an email at to find out more.

You can also visit our website where you can make a donation to support our work, sign up to a free monthly newsletter and find out more about us.