Groundwork aims to raise profile and cash via RHS shows

A series of six Groundwork UK garden features at RHS shows could help to boost coffers and bring in more business following local authority cuts that have resulted in lost contracts.

Chris Beardshaw, whose display at last week's RHS Show Cardiff was inspired by Groundwork projects in Merthyr Tydfil, said the aim was to raise the charity's profile and win public donations. He added that Groundwork greened places that were often trouble spots and helped build communities.

Marketing head Fiona Taylor said: "We were quite reliant on the green-space budgets from local authorities, but now a lot of our business is coming from housing associations.

"From a Groundwork point of view, that sits well with what we do. We couldn't have predicted that. The Government is more comfortable with the enterprise of housing associations."

Taylor added that the Government's closure of regional development agencies had led to Groundwork closing its regional offices to concentrate on more local involvement.

"We're now looking at new fundraising and this initiative is about testing the public fundraising market - are the general public interested in giving to this kind of work?" she explained.

"We hope that donations will be the outcome. The message is that you can't leave green space to someone else," she added.

Groundwork will be at six RHS shows throughout this year, with gardens inspired by local schemes. A Groundwork show feature, sponsored by Marks & Spencer, will be central to the Hampton Court Flower Show in July and will include all the charity's gardens designed for RHS shows this year.

The garden will replace the grow your own feature designed by Jon Wheatley, who is having a year's break from shows.

RHS shows development director Bob Sweet said: "It's a massive 2,000sq m feature focusing on urban greening. We're lending our support to encourage more people to think about urban greening."

Groundwork will launch an as yet untitled report at Chelsea collecting other reports on the benefits of green spaces for communities and the environment.

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