The gardens at Primrose have seen a total transformation to a trauma-informed safe space for our customers
The gardens at Primrose have seen a total transformation to a trauma-informed safe space for our customers

BCHA is a southwest-based charitable housing association with a mission to end homelessness by offering the highest standards of support and accommodation.  Well-connected within the homeless and housing sector, BCHA provide holistic support to those affected by homelessness through a range of interventions. We also offer, as linked and standalone services, mental health services, employability and skills training, services for Young People and refuges and outreach for survivors of domestic abuse and modern day slavery. We believe in equality, the importance of every individual, and the right to be valued and treated with dignity and respect. Our doors are open to everyone.

BCHA were fortunate enough to secure funding from the Frontline Network training fund in order to book colleagues to attend Trauma Informed Training provided by Homeless Link. Colleagues from hostel settings were able to attend the one-day training course to upskill our teams in working in a Trauma Informed way with our customers. Colleagues working in these areas work directly with customers who have endured trauma and long-term homelessness. Over the last few months, colleagues have been working in teams to run projects using their learning from this training. Originally, the initial projects were due to last 6 weeks, but due to the brilliant success are now being extended.

From the training, we aimed to see improved relationships between colleagues and customers. By preventing re-traumatisation, our customers will feel both physically and psychologically safe. In turn, trust between colleagues and customers will be improved and customers will feel heard and supported in their journey. Colleagues were encouraged to develop projects at schemes which adopt the principles of Trauma Informed Care. One project in particular, the Primrose Service, has focused on meaningful use of time to promote wellbeing.

The Primrose Service is committed to working together with customers to develop new responses to domestic abuse and trauma. We want to learn how best to empower, listen, support and motivate the women to have a better experience. 

This particular TIC project has seen the women at the scheme work together to develop and improve their outdoor space. The project has allowed customers to build relationships with staff, working alongside them to create a space they can be proud of and enjoy. The garden project has seen the women unified by more than their needs for support, creating a feeling of community and purpose.

One customer commented; “When I am in the garden with other residents, if there is an awkward silence it’s easier to break the ice by talking about the garden, which leads on to other things. Before the garden was revamped, I did not have the chance to engage with housemates. Now I feel I know people more and I enjoy the teamwork that we all did to make it. I’m not a gardener but I did help with the shopping and planning so I felt part of it. It’s nice to sit out with a cup of tea with the flowers around it makes me feel more at home than in a refuge” 

Customers are enjoying their garden at Primrose with a new community spirit
Customers are enjoying their garden at Primrose with a new community spirit

Through being person centred we could hear the customer needs and wants, the residents' voice was the lead with this project and the outdoor space was something that was important to the women living there. Through working on the garden project the women felt a sense of achievement and have found it has boosted their confidence. 

Another customer commented; “I think having plants has given people something to do and has encouraged people to learn about plants and how to grow things. It gives people a sense of purpose at a time when they can feel lost and isolated, and it brings people together. It makes a bland area more interesting and encourages wildlife and insects. It offers calm place just to sit and enjoy”

100% of the residents use the garden area more than before

100% of the residents feel it is easier to socialise with other residence since using the garden space

100% of the residents feel less stressful when using the garden

Next steps for the Primrose service include continuing to work on the garden space through the winter to ensure the garden is in the best position for Spring. Customers have enjoyed taking visits to local supermarkets and garden centres to find reduced plants, including house plants, to add to their collection. It’s not just the garden that the customers are passionate about, they also love crafting and regular craft workshops are being held by colleagues. The card making workshop is particularly popular! Work is also being completed at another one of the schemes, showing what can be achieved in a small space. BCHA look forward to seeing the future plans for Primrose and can’t wait for an update in the Spring.


If you are interested in learning more about psychologically informed or trauma informed environments, please contact Vicky Gladden, Quality and Practice Lead – Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE)

If you would like to apply for funding to support you or your team to attend training please visit the Frontline Network's Training Fund pages.

The new gardens will help customers reflect, relax and recover in their mental health journey
The new gardens will help customers reflect, relax and recover in their mental health journey

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