Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Oakleaf provides vocational training and employment experience for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community, those suffering mental ill-health. Horticulture, upholstery and IT are the three main areas in which we offer vocational training.

The horticultural training enables clients to acquire the work skills for employment in gardening, covering both hard and soft landscaping. Clients are taught different gardening skills whilst providing modest gardening and landscaping services to local businesses and private customers during a structured “working day”. The therapeutic nature of gardening, and scope for self-employment, is particularly suited to many clients. The commercial edge to their studies allows clients to experience a real working environment. Working in a team encourages punctuality, commitment and motivation and promotes social cohesion. All clients are taught by experienced trainers and have the opportunity to enhance their job prospects by studying for an accredited vocational qualification in Amenity Horticulture, developed with Merrist Wood Horticultural College.

The equipment costs for the Horticulture department represent a significant cost for a small charity such as Oakleaf. The equipment constantly requires replacement due to the inevitable heavy ‘wear and tear’ involved in the work. The equipment is essential in the delivery of the horticultural training and indeed to the gardening services which Oakleaf provides to the local community in Guildford. Such items include: lawn mowers, stiff brooms, gardening gloves, chemical box, ramps, knapsacks, herbicide, secateurs, anti-vibrating gloves, patio weeders, grass rakes, fuel cans, leaf grabbers, ladders, ratchets, tarpaulin, kneepads, safety goggles and ear defenders.

Oakleaf continues to have an excellent record in working with its clients to support them to return to work following their mental illness. Many of the horticultural clients have made a successful transition back to work as a result of attending Oakleaf's vocational training.

Following a six-week initial assessment, Horticulture clients are supervised and observed throughout their training by the horticulture team. The Client Services team conducts four-monthly Recovery Star reviews where clients score their own recovery on a scale of one to ten in areas such as managing self-care, living skills, work, relationships, addictive behaviour, responsibilities, and self-esteem. They help clients set and achieve life and work goals measured against the Recovery Star core outcomes.

It is estimated that 30 of Oakleaf’s clients each week would benefit from the use of these items, (about 50 separate individuals over the course of one year), which will all be used during their training. In addition, customers will benefit from the use of the equipment as Oakleaf will be able to provide a higher quality of service.

Nationally there is a significant under-provision of services and funding supporting mental illness. The Mental Health Foundation’s Chief Executive Jenny Edwards reported in October 2014 that nationally local authorities’ spending on public mental health is only 1.4% of their public health spending. By voting for this project, people will be able to support a charity that provides services to some of the most vulnerable people in the country, and ultimately give them a chance at a new beginning. By supporting Oakleaf, our aim is to help raise the awareness of better mental health in the community and break the stigma and isolation that people may feel. Through this project, Oakleaf not only supports people with mental ill-health, but also gives back to the growing community and economy by providing valuable work experience and high quality services. Oakleaf Enterprise makes life work with mental illness.

Project Video

Oakleaf Enterprise

Moment of Pride

I am particularly proud of Oakleaf for the support it gives towards re-purpose in life. They truly make a difference to so many, and show that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and that people can be part of our communities again. I am proud to support such a great cause.

Location: Guildford