Press release

Swindon mental health social enterprise wins Prime Minister’s Big Society Award

A social enterprise that supports people who have battled mental health problems has been recognised with a Big Society Award.

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


A social enterprise that supports people to get their lives back on track after mental health problems has been recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award.

The Swindon-based organisation Local Enterprise and Vocational Employment Schemes (LEAVES), provides people with opportunities for fulfilling paid work in the local area. The 4 trained supervisors experienced in employment and mental health matters have supported over 30 people to find work that supports them to build their confidence, self esteem, personal and financial independence. The jobs, which include roles in conservation projects, recycling collections and a gardening service often also have a benefit for the local community.

LEAVES has built a strong working relationship with Swindon Borough Council over 10 years and has provided a range of services in that time such as recycling collections, bulky waste collections and woodland conservation as well as making a major contribution in the mental health arena. Swindon Borough Council also supply LEAVES with raw materials including compost, woodchip and logs which are then bagged and sold in the local community – creating more work opportunities.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

LEAVES provides an invaluable service supporting people who have battled mental health problems to take an important step into paid work.

This Big Society Award recognises the achievements and commitment of everyone at LEAVES. I hope they continue to grow and reach even more people.

Bob Astbury, Chair for LEAVES, said:

I am so proud that this award recognises the achievements of the members of LEAVES. This is not just for their resilience in fighting one of the most debilitating and yet least understood illnesses found in modern society. We also engage in meaningful work that in itself makes its own contribution to society - from our subsidised gardening service for the elderly and infirm through to local infrastructure improvements, assisting in increasing the volume of recyclable waste and other sustainable outcomes in Swindon.

We hope that the publicity associated with this award will help to inspire people in other areas to duplicate our success. We therefore extend an open invitation to similar organisations to come and see how we go about our work as we are confident that we can also learn from their experiences.

The award comes as LEAVES announce a new Estate Management contract with the Woodland Trust which will give more work and training opportunities for LEAVES clients.

Find out more about the Big Society Awards.

Published 5 February 2014