About Camden Garden Centre

About Camden Garden Centre

History

Camden Garden Centre is a big part of community life in Camden. We were founded in 1983 by a group of local business men and women who were concerned about youth unemployment in the area and wanted to do something to help. They decided to start some sort of professionally run business which would enable them to employ long-term unemployed youngsters as Trainees. For most Trainees this would be their first ever job. They would receive on the job training, go to college and get various qualifications – often their first educational achievements. After a couple of years they would be much more employable with employment history, solid job experience, and qualifications under their belt. New Trainees would continually come into the business as older Trainees moved on. The idea was that the business had to stand on its own two feet financially as a successful business, strive for excellence and not be dependant upon charitable donations. The founders were very forward thinking- no one else had ever heard of such an idea. Nowadays this would be called a Social Enterprise – we were one of the first in the UK. The shares of the company are owned by a Charitable Trust – initially titled The Southern Task Educational Trust but renamed The Camden Garden Centre Charitable Trust.

The business could have been anything – a print shop, garage, office services, but it just so happened that the founders were all keen gardeners and garden centres were becoming very popular – Camden Garden Centre was born!

Initially, the Garden Centre was situated between Jeffrys Street and Farrier Street and bounded by Kentish Town Road and Royal College Street – a busy location with the site leased from Camden Council. The Centre was a great success both financially and in its training objectives but the Council wanted the site back for housing association development. After 8 years we moved to our current home – a bigger site in Elm Village, just off St Pancras Way. After a few years of building up the business again following the move, Camden Garden Centre is now a multiple award winning Garden Centre in North London: UK Garden Centre of the Year; Urban Garden Centre of the Year; Outstanding Contribution to Education and Training in UK Horticulture; Charity Business of the Year in Camden and Islington. We donate funds to our parent charity which in turn provides help in sustaining our Training Scheme.

Some 300 Trainees have passed through our Training Scheme over the years and we have become the Garden Centre of choice for Londoners who expect nothing but the very best choice of top quality plants, gardening equipment, customer service and advice. We look forward to seeing you!

What We Do

Apart from our activities as a Social Enterprise providing employment opportunity through training for people disadvantaged in the labour market, our aim is to be the best Garden Centre for Londoners.
In many ways we are a traditional Garden Centre with an emphasis on top quality plants and everything London gardeners need. So we don’t have a massive area devoted to gifts and other paraphernalia like other garden centres have. Instead we want to inspire you as gardeners whether you have a large or small garden, courtyard, balcony or window boxes. We have a huge selection of exciting plants changing every day; the biggest range of pots and containers; exceptional houseplants for home and office; every type of compost and soil that you will need ; masses of seeds and bulbs so you can grow your own; an impressive collection of quality tools and accessories; and the best Christmas Trees in London!

We have a free car park, (where you can also park your bike after a leisurely ride along the Regent’s Canal tow path); disabled access throughout, including to our lovely gallery floor Café called Pritchard and Ure; we deliver all over London; and our valuable Reward Card scheme will save you lots of money!

Best of all though are our experienced staff who are delighted to guide and help you with top class advice. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Charitable Trust

In the early 1980s a group of concerned individuals in north London wanted to make a contribution to addressing the problem of youth unemployment. Many initiatives at this time drew on public or charitable funding. What was unusual about this particular project was that the founders sought to create an entity which was not reliant on taxpayers or charity donors. The idea was to create a business, owned, not by individuals but by a charity which set the aims of offering substantial periods of paid work, experience and vocational training to people who were at a disadvantage in the labour market. Southern Task Educational Trust was formed to offer expertise and guidance rather than capital. A commercial bank loan provided the start-up money, underwritten with a loan guarantee from the Wellcome Foundation and in 1983 Camden Garden Centre Ltd was formed, wholly owned by Southern Task Educational Trust. . Long-term unemployed youngsters were employed at the outset and today opportunities are offered to older people, women returning to work, ex-offenders, people living with mental health problems, homeless people and those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction as well as unemployed young people.

In 2012 Southern Task Educational Trust was renamed for simplicity to Camden Garden Centre Charitable Trust.

Camden Garden Centre Charitable Trust, has the following mission:

“To educate and train young people and adults over the statutory school leaving age in work and life skills likely to enable them subsequently to find satisfactory employment both by arranging periods of work experience and otherwise and by such means also to relieve poverty and improve social welfare and conditions of life among such people.”

Camden Garden Centre has never been dependent on external funding. Whilst a mainstream employer might see training as a cost, Camden Garden Centre develops its trainees (and staff) as a long term investment for the individual and the community.

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