What are cookies?

Our site uses cookies. A cookie is a small text marker stored on your computer that enables us to track the use of our website. We use cookies to help us understand what our users' interests and preferences are to ensure the website is as user friendly as possible.

This site only uses cookies in order to provide a service to visitors. No personal data is stored in cookies and cookies are not used in order to provide advertising. Cookies are used for the following purposes:

Learn more about cookies on aboutcookies.org

If you have any concerns about the processing of your personal data by the Dementia Action Alliance, please contact the Secretariat, c/o Alzheimer's Society, 43-44 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE.

Accept and continue

Sydenham Garden

Sydenham Garden is a well-being charity which promotes the physical and mental health of people living in South London Boroughs, principally Lewisham and Bromley. For the last twelve years, the charity has done this by providing co-workers (the name we give to our primary beneficiaries) therapeutic gardening sessions; opportunities for training with recognised qualifications; regular physical activity and creative opportunities. We aim to promote inclusion and reduce prejudice by bringing together co-workers with different degrees of mental and physical ill health, volunteers and members of the local community to work together. Currently, we provide: three garden sessions a week; two arts and crafts sessions; three Sow and Grow sessions (for those with early onset dementia); and a range of short courses and activities plus a monthly community lunch. Overall, Sydenham Garden enables people to improve their quality of life, social interaction and physical and mental health in a supportive community environment

16 December 2014
Health, Care
Local Alliances:
Lewisham Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Our Sow & Grow course aims to support people with early onset dementia to live well with dementia, using gardening, cooking, art and activities of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, as well as opportunities for reminiscence, reflection and discussion. Through these activities, participants are able to experience a holistic program of therapy that helps co-workers (our beneficiaries) to improve their cognitive skills, become more socially included and have a better quality of life.

Since 2013 we have been running three groups per week and our co-workers are placed with us for 6 months. Our evaluation conducted over the financial year 2013/14 shows our co-workers receive a rich and varied experience while taking part in Sow and Grow. Often the initial anxiety is offset quickly and the co-worker experiences a supportive and therapeutic programme, team and environment that almost certainly improve their well-being. The quantitative data strongly suggests high levels of improvement during their time at Sydenham Garden, especially in terms of independence and social inclusion and interaction. The qualitative data supports this assertion and it's clear that carers find Sow & Grow sessions just as valuable as the co-workers.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Motivating people with dementia to join a new group, meet new people in a place  that is not familiar to them, is always a challenge. Some factors preventing people with early dementia to join us are mobility issues, lack of confidence and high levels of anxiety.

We recruit our co-workers (our beneficiaries) through referrals that we receive from local social, support and medical services. We often need to remind practicians and project workers about Sow and Grow and the benefits  it offers for people with early dementia.
Our Sow and Grow sessions are designed for those with early stages of dementia, as we cannot offer 1:1 support. Clients are often assessed at crisis point which means that a great number of people diagnosed with dementia are not able to benefit from the services we offer, because their dementia has progressed too far.

Another issue is that we wish to maintain the positive effects of Sow and Grow by implementing an on-going group for those who complete the current 6 month course. A great number of those who complete the course desperately ask to join us for longer time. At the moment we have not established any funding in order to support a long-term group of social interaction and cognitive stimulation. 

Member website


2. Actions

  • Continue offering sessions of activities in a social and dementia friendly environment

    We work closely with other support groups and partner organisations in order to make sure people diagnosed with early dementia can have the option of joining our Sow and Grow course.  We also evaluate our project on a quarterly and annual basis in order to ensure that our co-workers (our beneficiaries) can experience the benefits of our sessions of social and cognitive activities in a dementia friendly garden and building. 

  • Outreach to local services

    Approaching GP practices, care homes, social services, other community groups for dementia in order to increase awareness and promote our project.


  • Fundraising

    Search for funding in order to be able to support a long-term group of Sow and Grow