The National Garden Scheme and Carers Trust: 25 years in partnership

Pot of flowers and sign reading: Garden open for charity

The National Garden Scheme is Carers Trust’s longest-standing supporter. Over the past 25 years, the National Garden Scheme has opened its beautiful gardens every year for unpaid carers. This continued support has helped raise an incredible £4.6m and provided a lifeline of respite breaks for unpaid carers, which has had a hugely positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

“The National Garden Scheme was an early supporter of carers, and its continuous funding for 25 years has made a dramatic impact on what we have been able to do during that time.

We’re hugely grateful for this long-term commitment from the National Garden Scheme. The £4.6 million has transformed the lives of unpaid carers across the UK, not least because it has meant we have been able to provide them with respite from, and more support with, their caring role. In recent years, the programme of free group carer visits to National Garden Scheme gardens has also been a real gift for carers, giving them the precious opportunity to enjoy the company and laughter of their fellow carers in the most beautiful surroundings imaginable.”  

Svetlana Kirov, Executive Director of Fundraising, Carers Trust

As well as funding, the National Garden Scheme’s free carer visits have enabled unpaid carers to get respite. Unpaid carers have enjoyed the beautiful gardens. They also found time and space for themselves, something they often find difficult to achieve. They have met with people with similar caring roles and built a support network of friends who can provide peer support. 

“My two hours in a National Garden Scheme garden away from my duties as a carer, speaking to other carers and enjoying delicious tea and cake has been like a holiday, a wonderful holiday.”

Unpaid carer

Flexible support from the National Garden Scheme

Two women in a garden

The National Garden Scheme is a flexible funder, so carers are supported in a variety of ways. This includes grants addressing their immediate and essential needs and grants to support groups of carers to visit gardens. In 2021 alone, Carers Trust has awarded 20 grants for Carers Getting Together activities, supporting unpaid carers to visit gardens and get some respite. 

Unpaid carers need a break. As well as providing unpaid carers with free visits to gardens, during its Gardens and Health week the National Garden Scheme shares the benefits of gardens on health and wellbeing, including highlighting how this is important for unpaid carers. Carers, who like Lisa, can get respite from their caring role by visiting gardens, as well as by spending time in their own.

The value of a garden for unpaid carers

Lisa in her garden

Lisa, who lives with her three children and husband, has Multiple Sclerosis and cares for her 15-year-old daughter Ana who is autistic. Ana has a little speech and high care needs, so she requires support with washing and dressing. It is not safe for Lisa to leave Ana on her own. Ana can get very frustrated sometimes, but she enjoys helping her mum in their garden.

Lisa recently returned to work after a 15-year gap. Lisa’s small garden is somewhere where she goes for a break from her busy life and to get a bit of respite from her caring role.

During the pandemic when the family were all at home Lisa was grateful for the garden: “I enjoy growing. It gives me a break and I like visiting other gardens to get ideas. I only have a small garden, but I have lots of pots of fruit and flowers."

“The garden really helped, particularly during the first lockdown as we couldn’t really go out much, but I could escape there for some respite. As a carer it’s really hard to find time for yourself but it’s so rewarding for carers to get a break.” 

Celebrating 25 years

Thanks to the National Garden Scheme, we have achieved so much in 25 years. Here are some key highlights:

  • Over the past two years alone, thanks to National Garden Scheme support, we have supported more than 46,000 unpaid carers through essential grants, garden visits and respite.
  • We have organised some truly memorable visits for unpaid carers to National Garden Scheme gardens, helping them with much needed time for respite.
  • In 2019, carers visited some extraordinary gardens: Fittleworth House, Eltham Palace and Gardens, Birstwith Hall, Great Dixter House and Gardens and Lytham Hall.
  • This year, groups of carers have been visiting beautiful gardens including Havoc Hall, The Old Vicarage, The Old Rectory and Mountain Ash.

We are hugely grateful for 25 years of incredible support from the National Garden Scheme, enabling us to reach even more unpaid carers when needed most. Our Executive Director of Fundraising, Svetlana Kirov, explains what makes the relationship with the National Garden Scheme so special.

To mark 25 years in partnership, the National Garden Scheme has once again organised garden visits for unpaid carers to beautiful gardens. Keep an eye out on social media @CarersTrust and @NGSOpenGardens to follow these garden visits and our 25th anniversary celebrations!

Find out more on the National Garden Scheme website.

“I’m just writing to say thank you so much for this outing. I hadn’t realised that I haven’t been anywhere simply for pleasure for a very long time.”

Unpaid carer after a garden visit