St Mary’s Secret Garden - natural wellbeing service for individuals with support needs

Service details

Who we are:

St Mary’s Secret Garden is an open access garden in Haggerston - Hackney that has been providing community access and horticultural therapy to people who are socially excluded or disadvantaged for over 25 years. 

St Mary’s Secret garden image 1

What we do:

The garden provides a freely available open space and works with the local community in a range of ways offering different projects for example:

"Come Gardening! a natural wellbeing service for individuals with support needs."

  • We work with local tenant resident associations to provide gardening support.
  • We sell plants and produce that we have raised and nurtured.
  • We organise workshops for schools and community groups.

St Mary’s Secret garden image 2


Horticultural Therapy

We provide Horticultural Therapy for people with disabilities, those experiencing mental health issues and older residents with long term health needs

We use nature, our garden and gardening as a means to improve skills, wellbeing and create a sense of belonging.

Gardening in the community with a mix of different people creates opportunities to make good friends and feel a sense of achievement. Our holistic approach supports you with an allocated key worker and support from our lovely experienced volunteers.

Courses and training

We are a City and Guilds Approved Training Centre and provide quality training for people living in Hackney (and beyond) offering opportunities for them to gain accredited qualifications in skills for working life and horticulture.

We offer both accredited and non-accredited training courses to people in Hackney who are experiencing issues preventing them accessing paid work.

Both day and half day placements are available and currently take place on Wednesdays and Fridays. There is a charge for day and half day placements (see costs).


Volunteering opportunities are available for some local people recovering from health issues.



We operate a sliding scale of charges for different activities ranging from £20 - £70 depending on the activity and length of session.  

The cost of individual support needs will be assessed during a free taster session.

We are happy to offer more than 1 free taster for autistic adults.

We will look together at the goals and aims for participants and, for example if individuals would like to study for and gain accredited vocational awards like a City & Guilds Entry Level Skills for Working Life or Level 1 Horticultural Skills, the charge for these courses would be at a higher rate than someone who does not want to study for and gain qualifications with us.

Payment options are available so please contact the garden's director to find out more. 

SEND Local Offer

Training and Experience

St Mary's Secret Garden is a member of Social Farms and Gardens

  • Staff come from a range of professional backgrounds: Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Health & Social Care and
  • Horticultural Therapy.

Different staff have different qualifications in:

  • Horticulture,
  • teacher trainers,
  • assessing vocational qualifications.

All our supporting volunteers are local people with varied backgrounds which include:

  • teaching, teaching assistants  
  • qualified gardeners or
  • keen amateurs

Our staff and supporting volunteers have been vetted and have current enhanced DBS checks

Local Offer Age Bands
Preparing for Adulthood 14-18
Young Adults 18 - 25
SEN Provision Type
  • Universal
  • Targeted
  • Specialist

Who to contact

020 7739 2965 020 7739 2965
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Where to go

St Mary’s Secret Garden
50 Pearson Street

E2 8EL

View E2 8EL on a map
Venue Notes

Local Bus Numbers: 394, 26, 55, 48, 149, 243, 67, 242

Tube: Old Street

Train: Hoxton Overground / Old Street

Disabled parking? Yes

 Other comments on parking: 2 places available in the garden, resident parking & disabled parking nearby

Can you provide any transport to or from your service? Not usually but could be negotiated

Time / Date Details

Session Information
Come Gardening Wellbeing Service: Wednesday & Friday

Other details

Who is eligible?

Those wishing to attend the project currently need to:

  • be aged 16 years or over
  • able to access SEND or other personal budget

Referral required?


Referral Details

You can be referred to St Mary’s Secret Garden by:

  • GPs or other health professionals
  • a social worker
  • We accept referrals from individuals themselves (self-referrals)
  • Parents and carers may also refer to our services

Free taster sessions can be booked.

Contact the service directly using the details above for more information.

What to do if you have a complaint

We have a complaints and comments procedure which is available on request.

Initial route is via:

  • individuals own keyworker or
  • Director of the charity, Paula Yassine

Trustee members with specific roles:

  • Chair - Megan Bell will be available to discuss feedback and complaints
  • Paula Yassine is the named lead for safeguarding 
Can parents & young people buy this service as part of their SEND personal budget?


SEND Personal Budget - Notes
Service can be purchased using personal budgets. Opportunity will be available to study and gain qualifications in: - Entry Level Skills for Working Life and/ or - Horticulture

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