News story

Cherry Orchard Gardening Service wins Big Society Award

The Staffordshire social enterprise, which enables local disabled people to maintain the gardens of elderly residents, is the latest winner in the awards.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Staffordshire-based social enterprise Cherry Orchard Gardening Service (COGS), which enables local disabled people to maintain the gardens of elderly residents, is the latest winner of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Awards.

COGS provides training, support and employment for local people with learning disabilities to become competent gardeners. They then use their skills to maintain the gardens of vulnerable isolated older residents.

This valuable service both provides jobs for people who find it hard to access employment, whilst also making elderly residents feel positive about their local areas.

COGS has made a valuable contribution to the local community, with:

  • 24 people with learning disabilities each year benefiting from its services.
  • reports showing an improvement in their health and an increase in their self-esteem.
  • 300 older people have been supported over the past 4 years with many saying that the work of COGS has enabled them to continue to live at home.

Congratulating COGS on the award, the Prime Minister said:

I would like to congratulate all those involved with the Cherry Orchard Gardening Service who have made such a difference to their local area. Their work has enabled both disabled people to find work and also elderly residents to feel more secure in their neighbourhood. This is an innovative way for one part of the local community to help another.

Winning this Big Society Awards shows what can be achieved when people come together. It’s fantastic for community spirit and social cohesion and I wish this excellent initiative all the best for the future.

Accepting the award, Ian Wells, COGS Project Co-odrinator, said:

When the Cherry Orchard Gardening Service started out following the wishes of the learning disabled gardeners, nobody could have predicted the welcome they would receive by the community.  Nor could we have predicted the level of demand or the benefit our work would have for the well-being of the older people wishing to stay in their own homes.

Colin Burnyeat, a gardener in the COGS Team, said:

I like working in gardens with my mates at the Cherry Orchard Gardening Service, having a job, getting paid, laughing, meeting people and learning about new things, making a difference and it makes me feel good.

Notes to Editors

For press enquiries contact:

Ian Wells - 07734 149 823

Brenda Tunstall -  07728 252 875

On the Big Society Awards:

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses upon three specific areas:

  • Promoting social action - people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources.
  • Empowering communities - local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others.
  • Opening up public services - public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services.

Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by officials and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who then presents the final award. Around twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced throughout the year.

For more information visit:

Forty winners have been announced to date:

  • Make a Difference South East - a project that inspires young people in Milton Keynes to better their lives and those around them through positive action and volunteering
  • Why Not Change North West - a social enterprise which builds the confidence and capability of individuals and organisations to make a positive difference
  • HERO North West - a project that inspires an enterprise culture amongst young people in Blackpool and beyond
  • Food Cycle London - a project that brings together young volunteers, surplus food and free kitchen space to create nutritious meals for people affected by food poverty in the UK
  • Biddick Hall Community Focus Group North East - a project that has transformed the community through local action on health, crime, employment and activities for young people
  • Altogether Better Yorks & Humber - a programme involving volunteer Community Health Champions engaging with communities to help them lead healthier lifestyles
  • Greenwich Leisure Limited London - a social enterprise that manages over 70 public leisure centres in partnership with 20 councils across the South East
  • Kendray Initiative Yorks & Humber - a project that has transformed the community through local action on housing, crime, employment and activities for young people
  • CREATE Yorks & Humber - a not-for-profit company which delivers innovative training and employment opportunities for people who have been homeless, marginalised or vulnerable
  • Central Surrey Health South East - a social enterprise providing community nursing and therapy services on behalf of NHS Surrey and other partners
  • The Old Vic Tunnels South East - A unique performance space offering opportunities for young people to gain experience in production and be part of an innovative and diverse arts venue
  • Shelley Community Association Yorks - Shelley Community Association, a voluntary organisation that represents and brings together village residents
  • The Sweet Project A social enterprise that develops and trains students while supporting families in deprived areas
  • Bevendean Local Action Team A volunteer run initiative that aims to reduce anti-social behaviour and promote pride in their local community
  • Disability Challengers South East - A children’s charity offering exciting activities and play opportunities for disabled children and young people
  • Higher Croft Action Group North West - A group of volunteers making a difference to the lives of young people in Blackburn
  • Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool South West - Wotton under Edge Swimming Pool Club, a group of volunteer swimming enthusiasts who mobilised the whole community in support of their local pool
  • Christine Gibson East - An individual who brought together people from her community and worked with her housing association to make a real difference to her fellow residents
  • Digi Steps South West - a social enterprise run by school pupils who wanted to share their internet and computer skills with senior citizens in their area
  • Anfield Breckside Community Council North  West - an umbrella group that works with 14 residents associations, linking different groups together, providing training and advice, assisting with securing funding, helping the community with planning and regeneration and resolving issues such as anti-social behaviour
  • The Children’s Forum South East - offering children the chance to play an active role in developing and improving local services for young people
  • The Welcome North West - a community centre which has been providing activities and vital services for the local community in Knutsford for over 15 years
  • Magic Breakfast National - A charity dedicated to ensuring every child starts the school day with the right breakfast
  • Orange RockCorps National - inspires people to volunteer within their community by producing concerts for which you can’t buy a ticket as a reward
  • Blacon Community Trust North West - a social enterprise in Chester offering a wide range of community-based activities and services, all focused on ‘Building a better Blacon’
  • Sports Traider/ Lance Haggith East - Lance Haggith runs a chain of charity sports shops offering affordable sporting goods and employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed and ex-offenders
  • Mitzvah Day National - a national day of social action where thousands of people take part in hands on projects top support charities and build stronger communities
  • Creation Development Trust Wales - a social enterprise set up to revitalise the local area in Bridgend which has become the largest timebanking scheme in Europe
  • UBSBridgeAcademy London - The UBSBridgeAcademy partnership, where UBS employees work with the Academy to support and inspire students
  • Gateway 97.8 East - a community radio station in Basildon which aims to enrich the lives of young people and to tackle anti social behaviour
  • Waitrose Community Matters Scheme National - an innovative scheme which allows shoppers to choose three charitable causes each month to receive a £1,000 donation from their store by voting at the check-out and has given over £10 million to good causes
  • Social Media Surgeries West Midlands - Nick Booth started up ‘social media surgeries’ to help local community groups to make the most of the internet to support their work.  He developed this into a network of experts helping groups all over the country
  • Linklaters LLP ‘Learn for Work’ London - employees of the law firm go in to local schools to help give children the aspirations, skills and experience they need to fulfil their potential
  • Christian Nightlife Initiative National - a community group that has helped to reclaim no-go areas of their town once blighted by binge drinking through night-time weekend patrols by volunteers
  • Cool2Care Nationwide - Social Enterprise helping parents of disabled children to recruit fully screened and trained Personal Assistants
  • BT National - employee volunteering scheme which offers all staff three days of work time a year to volunteer in an activity of their choice with over 49,000 days of time donated in the 2011 financial year
  • Serve East Midlands - a local charity which provides care and support services in the Northampton area to around 60,000 vulnerable older people and adults with disabilities including; day and home care, community transport and hospital after care
  • City Gateway Tower Hamlets, London - provides training to disadvantaged young people and women to help them progress towards employment and higher education
  • The Glenmore Trust, North Cumbria - provides a range of support services for people with learning and physical disabilities.
  • Cherry Orchard Gardening Service, Staffordshire - social enterprise which enables local disabled people to maintain the gardens of elderly residents.

External site: Cherry Orchard Gardening Service

External site: Cherry Orchard Gardening Service on Facebook

Published 14 September 2012