The garden has been open for over 25 years, and offers wellbeing support to locals.
Photograph: St Mary’s Secret Garden

St Mary’s Secret Garden is urgently asking for funds to support its community service through the winter months.

The appeal is seeking to raise £15,000 to cover half of three months’ worth of running costs.

Siobhán MacMahon, garden manager, told the Citizen: “We need to be here for our beneficiaries but we’re still waiting on funding bids and things coming through.

“The appeal is basically to raise some money to tide us over.”

As with many charities and small enterprises, the pandemic has pushed the Hoxton garden into financial difficulty.

“It’s been quite relentless with the pandemic,” MacMahon said. “It just kind of keeps coming back and we’ve had to close or shut down a little bit more and we’ve never really reached our full capacity again.”

She said the garden’s financial resources have been eaten into by months of upkeep as well as costly spending on Covid-19 protection such as extra cleaning and face masks.

In the appeal, a statement from the garden reads: “This money is vital to pay our staff, keep the garden open, allow us to run our services and support our community.”

The urban haven has been a safe space for the local community for over 25 years, offering wellbeing support through nature.

“We’re not just a garden, we’re a service for people to come to and enjoy and have that therapeutic side of gardening as well,” MacMahon said.

“Quite a few people who come here have been coming here for many years and they rely on us being here so we really want to keep going for them.”

The garden provides horticultural skills training to local residents with learning disabilities, mental health illness and long-term health conditions.

“If lots of people give a small amount then that’s really going to help us out,” MacMahon added.

The garden closes for the festive season today but is expected to reopen on 3 January.

You can donate to the St Mary’s Secret Garden appeal here.

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