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 been transformative for unpaid carers across the UK, enabling them to have more respite for and support with their caring role. In recent years, the programme of free carer visits to National Garden Scheme gardens has added an extra, invaluable benefit to so many.”   

Gareth Howells, Chief Executive Officer at Carers Trust

As well as funding, the National Garden Scheme’s free carer visits have enabled unpaid carers to get respite. Unpaid carers enjoyed the beautiful gardens. They also found time and space for themselves, something they often find difficult to achieve. They met with people who have 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 suport from the National Garden Scheme

Four adults sitting at a table outside in a garden


The National Garden Scheme is a flexible funder, so carers are supported in a variety of ways, including with grants addressing their immediate and essential needs.

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.

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.

Find out more on the National Garden Scheme website.

Keep an eye out on social media @CarersTrust and @NGSOpenGardens to follow our 25th anniversary celebrations!

“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 on a garden visit