Work with us: Jobs and Volunteering


We are recruiting! Come & Grow with us

Thanks to the support of the City Bridge Foundation

We are seeking a passionate and experienced Community Growing Programme Lead with a track record of coordinating engaging, educational and accessible food growing and environmental workshops and learning opportunities for the local community.

This is a new, varied, and exciting role with the opportunity to maintain and develop a beautiful, versatile garden alongside a small and supportive team.

If you think this is the role for you please download our application pack below and follow the instructions closely to apply. 

Job Title                     Community Growing Programme Lead
Salary                          £15,000 (per annum – this is the pro rata salary)
Hours                          3 days per week with possible weekend and evening work.
Other Benefits            Contributory pension, Group Life Insurance and Long Term Sickness Income Protection
Annual Leave              17 days annual leave including bank holidays
Responsible to           
Location                      This role is based at St Mary’s Secret Garden, 50 Pearson Street, London E2 8EL

Main purposes of the job:

To plan, organise and facilitate volunteering sessions and community courses which may include weekend volunteering sessions, and corporate volunteer workdays.

To involve the diverse local community of Hackney and neighbouring boroughs in activities at St Mary’s Secret Garden (SMSG) with an emphasis on individuals and communities who may otherwise be excluded, particularly disabled and learning-disabled people, and people with mental ill health and long-term health conditions.

To use horticulture and other knowledge relating to growing and caring for plants, nature conservation, garden maintenance and landscaping to engage with people, encourage learning and promote health and wellbeing.

To promote the social, therapeutic and training aspects of horticulture to community groups, and individuals in the London Borough of Hackney and beyond.

To work flexibly and independently within our small team to support each other, to assist with the physical maintenance and general organisation of the St Mary’s Secret Garden ensuring that the garden is cared for, open and accessible to the wider local community.

To proactively develop SMSG as a resource for the local community, creating and facilitating new projects.

Application pack including full job description and person specification here:
Community Grower Programme Lead
Equal Opps Form SMSG 2023

Please apply for this role by sending a CV and covering letter in a Word docx to along with our equal opportunities monitoring form. We will only shortlist candidates who clearly match their skills and experience to each point of the person specification.

We recognise the lack of diversity in this sector and particularly encourage applications from people of colour.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 30th June 2024 , interviews are currently scheduled for July.


Volunteering with a community project can bring huge rewards. Our work tackles important issues like isolation and healthy lifestyles, making the garden a fulfilling place to volunteer. We do a very wide variety of things so there’s scope for everyone to contribute – our expert team support our volunteers so they can really make a difference.

You do not need to have any specific skills to volunteer, however an interest in gardening, supporting vulnerable people, DIY, office administration, fund raising or publicity would be of benefit.

Volunteer Roles at St Mary’s Secret Garden

We are currently seeking to appoint Trustees to our Management Committee. Please see our general role description below. This role is crucial for any charity, as it involves overseeing the organization to ensure that it is progressing towards its objectives and mission. To find out more please contact the garden and speak to the CEO Paula Yassine.

Trustee Role Description

There are lots of opportunities to get involved with the charity, the garden and all its activities. For example:

  • could you be a trustees or fundraiser?
  • can you fix a leaking tap or water butt?
  • Do you know your sow’s thistle from your grannie’s bonnet?
  • Would you like to meet new people and know you are going to make a positive change to people’s lives and the environment?

Supporting Volunteers

These volunteers work alongside horticultural therapists to support our clients to work in the garden. Volunteers would ideally be able to commit to a regular half-day or whole day a week, currently on Wednesdays or Thursdays. An ability to work with people with support needs and learning difficulties is an essential requirement for this role.

Supported Volunteer Work Team

Once a week we run a supported volunteer work session for people who would like to work in the garden with others but need a bit of support and supervision. Volunteers would have an interest in working with others as a team, working outdoors and improving your skills. There are a limited number of places available. Our Supported volunteering sessions are currently running on Tuesday afternoons – please contact and ask for Siobhan our Garden Manager.

Other volunteering opportunities

We are always grateful for additional help, particularly from skilled volunteers who are happy to work with minimal supervision in areas such as office and administrative work, and fundraising.

If you would like to help in any of these volunteer roles, please download our Volunteer Enrolment Form and return it to us at If you would like to discuss volunteering with us before completing an enrolment form, please call us on 0207 7392965 or pop into the garden for a chat.

If you are more interested in volunteering as a Corporate Group, follow this link for more details of opportunities and a return form to express your interest.

Some of our volunteers explain why they enjoy coming to St Mary’s Secret Garden:


I have been volunteering at St Mary’s Secret Garden since the summer of 2010. It is a joy to work in the happy, welcoming atmosphere in the garden which benefits clients and volunteers alike.

It has been a great opportunity for me to put into practice the knowledge I had already gained in gardening and social and therapeutic horticulture (via distance learning courses). I have learned so much since being at the garden and I hope that when I work with the clients they benefit from my guidance and support.

I enjoy all aspects of working at the garden. No matter what the weather brings, there is always something to do either in the garden or under cover in the greenhouse or the poly-tunnel. Indoor tasks can vary from packing seeds, making jams, chutneys and herbal bath bombs for sale and cleaning gardening boots – there is never a dull moment!

I am also using my creative talents to make items to sell to raise funds for the garden. My mini beasts and catnip mice, fish and cats are best sellers – well worth the effort and awful headache and itching nose I got being a hay fever sufferer!


In 2008, I was looking for a volunteering opportunity after a very difficult period in my life. Some years ago, I suffered with mental ill health and, though I was well when I came to the garden, the friendly support I got from the staff was a panacea to the low self-esteem and alienation I felt.

The therapeutic effect of gardening is strong and subtle and the community feeling at St Mary’s and the commitment to nurturing learning, has made me feel a valued member of society again. I have completed both a practical horticulture course in the garden and a Health and Social Care course at another college to increase my skills in working with the vast array of people who come to the garden for sustenance.


For many years I’ve been working one morning a week in the garden doing odd jobs, weeding, plant care, etc. I heard about the garden from a friend when I was looking for voluntary work and I loved it . Partly, because I’ve always liked gardening and, partly, because I like the people – so it’s pure selfishness!