A charity has received a £5,000 grant to help mentally ill and vulnerable people gain a qualification in horticulture.

Garden therapy charity Thrive, which has a centre in Battersea Park, was delighted to receive their second grant from The Wimbledon Foundation Community Fund. Thrive, which runs a range of gardening programmes to help disabled and vulnerable people feel part of the community, will use the money to fund their popular City and Guilds qualification in horticulture. Up to 20 people will enrol on the course to gain a level one qualification in practical horticulture.

Thrive horticultural therapist Mark Emery, who runs the programme, said: "Client gardeners arriving at Thrive will be experiencing mental ill-health and may have other health issues. Gardening allows them to cope with this by being outdoors, working in nature and becoming part of a group dynamic.”

He added: “The grant from Wimbledon Foundation Community Fund enables our clients to access our gardening programme without putting a financial burden upon them.”

Since April 2016, 47 people have enrolled on the charity’s qualification programmes. They have helped 75 per cent of these move into some form of work, 42 per cent in the volunteer sector and 33 per cent into paid employment.

Mark said: “We support their progress from day one and support them towards obtaining a qualification in Practical Horticulture. After this we can help with CV writing and interview techniques and hope that will lead to them moving on into voluntary or paid work. One of our clients powerfully confirms "It’s this place that keeps me going".

Helen Parker, foundation and community manager at Wimbledon Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Thrive as we’ve seen first-hand the long-term difference their programmes are making to the lives of adults living with mental health issues. Our Community Fund is one of several ways in which the Wimbledon Foundation is making a positive difference and helping to change lives in our local community of Merton and Wandsworth.”