What we do
Trust Links is an independent charity for mental health, wellbeing and the environment in Essex. We offer therapeutic gardening, recovery classes, social activities, employability support, training, environmental workshops and more. We work with around 4,000 people per year, with sites in Southend, Castle Point, Rochford, Braintree and Basildon.
We’re committed to building stronger communities and transforming lives. Supporting the environment through sustainable living is at the core of our work.
We offer the following:
– Therapeutic gardening through our Growing Together project
– Recovery and wellbeing workshops and courses through REACH Recovery College
– Access to the REACH Wellbeing Hub, providing wellbeing guidance, peer support groups and positive activities
– A range of projects and groups for children, young people and families
– Environmental workshops and volunteering opportunities
And so much more.
Inclusive: welcoming and respectful
We value and celebrate the unique and diverse talents, experiences and perspectives of everyone, and treat our members, partners, donors and each other with sensitivity and respect. At Trust Links we take a welcoming and non-judgemental approach to everything we do.
We focus on recovery, growth and empowerment, and recognise that everyone has something to contribute. We value everybody's voice and involve people in the decisions that affect them.
Rooted in our community
We are adaptive and continuously improving our high-quality services to respond to local needs. At Trust Links we strive to build a community of support, connecting people and services across Essex.
Environment: Nature and nurture
Working with nature benefits our wellbeing, as well as the community we live in. We understand that if we take care of the environment it takes care of us. Our practices and projects reflect our commitment to sustainability, our responsibility to the environment and the transformative power of nature.
Whatever you’re going through, we are here to support you.
Trust Links was founded by local churches and community activists to respond to the social and emotional needs of people with mental health issues in the Southend community – people may have had their clinical needs met, but many were lonely, isolated and bored, lacking hope and purpose in life. At the same time the former allotment land on the corner of Fairfax Drive and Prittlewell Chase was increasingly overgrown and neglected. There was an emerging evidence base that community gardening was a way of bringing people together to improve mental health and wellbeing, so the Growing Together project was born!
Trust Links was constituted as a charity. Projects with young people and with carers also commenced, helping to respond to identified needs in the community.
The Growing Together community garden in Westcliff continued to evolve with paths, polytunnel, log cabin and herb garden. Members worked with staff to build the Cheryl Centre, a strawbale insulated building, that provided a permanent office, meeting rooms, training room and kitchen.
Trust Links opened a second site in Shoeburyness, developing an unused one acre former allotment into a community garden. A large wildlife pond was dug out, polytunnels installed and in subsequent years a large log cabin, storage units and a sensory labyrinth was added to the site.
The schools programme commenced at Growing Together Westcliff, working with Milton Hall Primary School and Cecil Jones Secondary School. Positive and therapeutic activities were provided at the gardens and the lunches were an important part of the day. The project incorporated a nurturing approach and outdoor learning. Trust Links has also worked with the Pupil Referral Unit, Friars Primary School and Shoeburyness High School on joint programmes.
Working in partnership with local organisations in Castle Point, the Growing Together Thundersley site was built incorporating raised beds, potting shed and accessible paths. The site in Thundersley includes training rooms and a community shed providing woodworking activities in a safe and supportive environment for members and volunteers.
Following a series of discussions with Disability Essex, their building and grounds in Rochford were transferred to Trust Links when Disability Essex went into administration. Growing Together commenced on Fridays at Rochford in order to maintain the grounds and provide positive therapeutic activities in the Rochford area.
Youth Links peer support groups for young people of secondary school age, providing a safe and supportive space to meet other youth to improve mental health and wellbeing.
The REACH Wellbeing Hub launched and the REACH Recovery College expanded, providing a holistic assessment, peer support, wellbeing and recovery service for people of Southend, Castle Point and Rochford. Staff TUPE transferred to the new service, bringing it under a single joined-up management structure.
Trust Links Live COVID Response launches, providing live and pre-recorded content to support communities through lockdown. The gardens were maintained whilst many staff worked from home and members were provided with support remotely. Talking Together telephone befriending was developed, providing a lifeline for people that are isolated with the support of a volunteer befriender.
Families Growing Together commenced in partnership with A Better Start Southend, providing positive activities for children aged 0 to 4 and their families in Shoeburyness and Westcliff each week.
Growing Together Cressing Temple launched, with a weekly therapeutic community garden offer for people in the Braintree and Witham area. Let’s Grow Together initial programme ran to enable other community groups and charities across the UK and the world to learn from the approach that Trust Links takes with Growing Together.