Volunteer Centre Hackney volunteers. Photograph: courtesy ELFT

St Mary’s Secret Garden, Volunteer Centre Hackney and the Claudia Jones Organisation are among local groups set for a funding fillip – after the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) announced a huge £1.8m grants package.

ELFT invited community organisations across Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and beyond to apply for cash, with grants of between £5k and £100k up for grabs.

The programme was launched to help groups who support communities who experience inequalities in access, experience and outcomes in mental health care.

In total, 37 organisations will benefit – five of them in Hackney.

The much-loved St Mary’s Secret Garden in Hoxton, which uses nature to promote wellbeing and reduce social isolation among disadvantaged people, will receive £23,576. The money will cover the core costs of a part-time horticultural therapist, who will work with up to 32 people.

The Claudia Jones Organisation, a 40-year-old charity in Stoke Newington for marginalised Caribbean and African-heritage women, is another beneficiary. The group has seen a 120 per cent increase in demand for its services since the start of the pandemic. The funding from ELFT will pay for one-on-one and group counselling sessions for 105 children and young people, women and their families.

Peninim supports orthodox Jewish women with disabilities. Photograph: courtesy ELFT

Close to £50k will go Volunteer Centre Hackney, which has seen a tenfold increase in referrals since the pandemic began. The centre provides volunteers to community groups across the borough, and the grant will allow it to recruit an additional member of staff to help cope with the jump in demand.

A grant of £11,790 will fund a newly created case worker position at Peninim, which supports orthodox Jewish adult women with physical disabilities and long-term medical conditions. The charity puts on leisure and sports activities to promote social inclusion among the women in its care.

Lastly, MRS Independent Living has been awarded almost £14k for a therapeutic decluttering service for people with a hoarding disorder.

Dr Mohit Venkataram, ELFT’s director of commercial development, said: “Applications through the grants programme have helped shine a light on incredible organisations and people already doing amazing work to help others – and how they want to do even more.

“We are proud to be able to offer support to some of the groups who applied for funds and will continue to develop new ways to support others.

“Each of our voluntary sector partners demonstrate what a phenomenally important role they play in keeping our communities safe, especially when inequalities have shown the impact the pandemic has had on our vulnerable communities.”