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Hands of Hope charity logo

Set up in 2016 by the current Trustees and still run by them, Hands of Hope is restoring and developing a neglected walled kitchen garden and 22 acres of AONB land in Hawkhurst, located on the Kent and East Sussex Border – “Hope Farm Community Garden” – whilst conserving the site’s natural, community and environmental heritage. Our mission is to “Improve the health and wellbeing of people and planet by connecting communities to nature and each other.” Since securing planning in January 2019, we have been delivering programmes aimed at tackling food poverty, rural isolation and loneliness as well as improving mental, physical, and environmental health for communities throughout Rother, Hastings, and West Kent. We have a no-dig, productive, organic, market garden with Soil Association Accreditation.

The practical difference we make:

(I)               Helping Hands Lunch Club – monthly social club for older people tackling rural isolation with 65 members supported by 8 Volunteers running since November 2018.

(II)              Hope Farm Shedders – Bi-weekly social & skills project tackling rural isolation & improving social cohesion running Weds and Friday 10am to 2pm. Skills incl. green woodworking, wood turning, metal working, tool repair, site improvements & intergenerational training.

(III)            Bee in Company – A weekly intergenerational skills & social project teaching beekeeping skills, improving the sites’ biodiversity, promoting community cohesion, protecting bees, and transferring knowledge to the next generation of beekeepers. Activities include weekly social projects, beekeeping for beginners’ courses, schools’ activities, and Home Education delivery.

(IV)            Growing Buddies – Supported Volunteering running twice weekly. Additionally, we work with Mount Camphill supporting 16- to 24-year-olds with complex needs and residents of The Priory, Ticehurst, using horticulture as therapy.

(V)             Living History Programme – National Lottery Heritage Funded programme offering multiple opportunities for communities to improve physical & mental health as well as learn new skills by engaging with nature. Projects include: (i) Conservation and Local Heritage research skills, (ii) Traditional Hedgelaying, (iii) Beekeeping, (iv) Rural Crafts e.g., dyeing using food waste, (v) Bushcraft/foraging, (VI) Herbal medicines, (vii) Spinning & Weaving, (viii) Social Knitting sessions, (ix) Preserving and Pickling and (x) Field to Fork delivery.

(VI)            Get Growing – launched in July 2020 as a direct response to COVID-19 to date we have delivered 100s of tonnes of weekly fresh, in-season, organic produce to local food banks and community support groups as well as over 1500 Grow Kits supporting 13,000 potential growers. Settings include Community Gardens, Community Allotments, Early years, families, individuals, Primary schools, 8 Secondary Schools & Residential Care Settings. Food banks including Hawkhurst food4families, now part of Hastings food bank and Hawkhurst Community Fridge. Volunteer Activities include sowing and growing plug plants, preparing grow kits and delivering produce to local food banks.

(VII)          Volunteering – We run multiple volunteering sessions as well as free or subsidised skill workshops throughout the year.

Areas: Rother, Hastings and West Kent

Languages: English

Keywords: "volunteering", "conservation", "environment", "horticulture", "cooking", "nature", "alternative-provision", "skills", "heritage"

Last Updated: 13th December, 2023

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Quality recognition and indicator awards

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Disclosure and barring check:
  • owner/manager
  • all workers (in eligible roles)
  • all volunteers (in eligible roles)
Kite or quality mark:

Soil Association Accreditation

Award or recognition:

The King's Award for Voluntary Service

I have been through the Community Catalysts programme in Kent - 05/07/2023 Community Catalysts runs a local development programme in the area where this entrepreneur is operating that offers help, advice and support to local people. As part of this programme this enterprise/venture has signed up to the Doing It Right Standards. This does not mean that they have been accredited or approved in any way by the local council or by Community Catalysts and people should continue to do their own checks.

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