Organic Blooms is the first certified organic flower grower and florist in the UK – it’s also a social enterprise committed to getting people with mental health conditions into the workforce.
At Organic Blooms we believe in the transformative power of paid work. The right job can do wonders for self-worth, confidence, self-identity and social interaction – especially for people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions.
Our nine acre organic flower farm provides a beautiful platform for building both wellbeing and floristry skills. Our training program ensures that each trainee spends at least two years with us, gaining City & Guilds horticulture qualifications and consolidating wellbeing and workplace skills. We then encourage employees to move into other employment or further training.
After joining our program we see marked changes in employees in relation to their physical health, confidence, social skills and workplace skills. Some trainees go onto become employees here, whilst others transfer their skills and move onto other businesses.
Our role at Organic Blooms is to both create opportunities for employment in-house and to campaign for change in the wider employment world.
Katy Hassard was referred to us when she was struggling with mental health problems and is now a key member of our employed team. “Organic Blooms believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’ve been employed here for four years now and I was discharged from mental health services last year. I love the fact that I work outside and see all the seasons – it’s my dream job really”, said Katy.
Our role at Organic Blooms is to both create opportunities for employment in-house and to campaign for change in the wider employment world. We’ve found that careful planning and skill-matching are key to getting the best out of employees. Minor adjustments and preparations can help everyone achieve their best, so our trainers ensure that they’re always:
- Giving concise, precise instructions
- Giving written as well as oral instructions
- Giving clear targets and deadlines
- Asking people to repeat instructions back to check understanding
- Supporting people to voice opinions and make confident decisions
- Partnering employees with mentors
In 2016 we launched a campaign ‘Love to Work’, which highlighted what exceptional employees’ people with learning difficulties can be. In 2017 we were proud to achieve organic certification, to provide flowers for the Soil Association’s 70th birthday celebrations, and to start a growing trial with Pukka Herbs. And still, 2018 has been our most amazing year yet!
We set ourselves a target of raising £60,000. We needed to grow our facilities, expand out our workshops, and build on our position as market leaders and trail blazers – and create more jobs within the team. We raised £32,000 through crowdfunding and were thrilled to win the Virgin Unite VOOM Impact award. The £22,000 Virgin Unite grant is helping to build a new workshop.
Each development and success at Organic Blooms creates new opportunities for our team to gain experience or progress into paid roles. The incredible support we’ve received this year, in particular from Virgin Unite, is an enormous step towards transforming more lives.