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Following a public vote in Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, the Penrose Roots to Recovery Garden has been awarded the maximum grant of £12,000.

Penrose Roots is a therapeutic growing space in Luton, where service users grow organic fruit and vegetables, access skills workshop and socialise. The project promotes mental and physical health and wellbeing, increases employability and reduces social isolation.

Voting was held at all Tesco stores between Saturday 27th February and Sunday 6th March 2016. Over 8 million votes were cast by Tesco customers across England, Scotland and Wales – with voters nominating Penrose Roots as their choice for the top award in Luton and Dunstable.

Gill Arukpe, Chief Executive Officer of Penrose & Group CEO of the Social Interest Group, said: “We are delighted to come first in the public vote in Luton and Dunstable, for a Tesco Bags of Help £12,000 award. Thank you to all Tesco customers who showed such fantastic support for Penrose Roots – a project which improves our clients’ health, wellbeing and employability.”

Samantha Smith, Penrose Roots project coordinator, said: “Over the next 12 months, the Tesco Bags of Help grant will significantly enhance the Penrose Roots to Recovery garden at our 1.02 acre Bide-a-While site. The grant will go towards plants and trees, topsoil, poly-tunnels to enable growing all year round, site storage, tools and compost toilets.”

“In terms of health benefits, we have clients who are anxious and socially isolated when they first come to Penrose Roots, who form solid friendships which now extend outside of the project. As well as the physical exercise from gardening and the nutritional benefits of eating organic food, Penrose Roots offers local people a renewed sense of purpose in their lives.”

BrianBrian, a Penrose Roots to Recovery service user, said: “I thoroughly enjoy coming to Penrose Roots. It’s great, especially for people who don’t get out much. There are lots of other people up here you can meet. Years ago, everybody had a garden, but we’ve sort of lost that now. We enjoy working with the soil, then planting something and seeing it grow – especially as you can eat it afterwards.”

Sharon Petrarca, support worker with ACE Enterprises in Luton, said: “ACE Enterprises is an NHS service, which promotes social inclusion by supporting people with mental ill health to access mainstream opportunities. Some of our service users attend Penrose Roots. The project has built their confidence up so much. It gives our clients a purpose and direction in life and puts the sparkle back in their eyes.”

To find out more about Penrose Roots, watch our video by clicking here (this will open in a new window).