Growing Better, a Leeds-based social enterprise which supports people living with mental illness through courses and work experience at its urban farm, has received £10,000 of matched funding from Santander’s innovative Changemaker Fund.

The Changemaker Fund is part of a pioneering collaboration between Santander and rewards-based crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder. The programme is designed to help social enterprises, small charities and community groups deliver projects that improve communities and help disadvantaged people to have confidence in the future.

There is strong evidence which shows that growing produce and gardening can help those coping with mental health challenges1. Growing Better supports people living with mental health issues through providing them with indoor and outdoor gardening courses and work experience growing produce at its urban farm, based just outside of Leeds. The work experience is run for those preparing to re-enter employment with the organisation also employing people with long-term mental health conditions.

Growing Better sells its produce to local food establishments, wholesalers and the general public, with the aim of becoming a fully sustainable enterprise. It also carries out support activity with other local projects, such as creating a garden in a refuge for women experiencing domestic violence, enabling them to grow their own ingredients.

The funding from Santander is enabling the organisation to establish an indoor hydroponic vertical farm, where plants can be grown without using soil, and on several different levels to use space more efficiently. This approach will help Growing Better grow produce all year- round. The new farm which grows microgreens, pea and sunflower shoots will also help provide further work experience and employment opportunities through workshops and local outreach work with nearby schools.

Sue Douthwaite, Managing Director of Santander Business Banking, commented: “We are thrilled to be able to support Growing Better as it expands its operations and continues its outreach work in the community. The organisation carries out fantastic work providing valuable employment and training opportunities, in addition to selling fresh produce locally, and we are excited to see how they develop further.”

Rob Moores, Founder of Growing Better, commented: “This funding has allowed us, literally, to get growing. We now have premises in which to grow our microgreens and run workshops, we have a space for a community garden and we have started to build an outreach programme for local schools. We are also having some very positive conversations with local businesses and wholesalers about our produce and the Changemaker Fund has made all this possible. I am very excited to see what we can achieve in 2018 and beyond.”

The Changemaker Fund,, is part of Santander’s flagship community programme, The Discovery Project, which aims to inspire people to have confidence in the future through projects that build skills, grow knowledge and support innovation.

By working together with Crowdfunder, Santander aims to enable entrepreneurs and community groups to tackle social challenges and create positive local impact. Eligible projects seeking funds of up to £20,000 and focused on supporting skills, knowledge or innovation that get the crowd’s backing will receive 50 per cent of their funding requirement from Santander to ensure the enterprise reaches its target.

As well as access to the matched funding from Santander, projects will benefit from crowdfunding team specialists with education, enterprise and coaching support to unlock further funds and create lasting impacts in communities across the UK.

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Notes to Editors 

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. It has brought real competition to the UK, through its innovative products for retail customers and relationship banking model for UK SMEs. At 31 March 2018, the bank has c19,500 employees. It serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking; and 64 regional Corporate Business Centres. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

About Us 
Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful market share in 10 core countries in Europe and the Americas, and is the largest bank in the euro zone by market capitalization. At the end of 2017, Banco Santander had EUR 986 billion in customer funds (deposits and mutual funds), 133 million customers, 13,700 branches and 200,000 employees. Banco Santander made attributable profit of EUR 6,619 million in 2017, an increase of 7% compared to the previous year.

About Growing Better CIC

Growing Better supports people to improve and become more resilient in their mental health through edible food growing. It grows and sells micro greens in an indoor hydroponic vertical farm in a disadvantaged area of Leeds, just outside the city centre. Through its commercial and community activities it provides a range of opportunities to experience the beneficial effects on mental health of growing edible produce, including volunteering, courses, work experience and paid employment.

For more information visit Growing Better at

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