New ways to recovery through Growing Lives

Cycling the Derbyshire canals, trying avocado for the first time and learning to cook a vegetarian meal from scratch. These are just some of the new things experienced last month by people taking part in Growing Lives, run by Derventio Housing Trust at Orchard Works, 1 Grenville Drive, Ilkeston DE7 8HT.

Growing Lives provides skill-building activities including gardening, cookery and arts with one-to-one mentoring to reduce isolation and improve confidence, health and wellbeing.

The project recently celebrated Vegetarian Week to introduce people to new and exciting meals and encourage them to include more vegetables in their diet. Throughout the week, participants prepared and served vegetarian breakfasts and lunches for themselves and other Growing Lives attendees. The vegetable theme continued in the art room with participants sewing vegetable-themed coasters and making vegetable bunting. In the garden participants have been planting seeds ready for this year’s vegetable crop, including courgettes, cucumbers, lettuce, runner beans, cabbage and beetroot.

Kim Miles, Support Services & Project Lead for Growing Lives says: “The feedback from Vegetarian Week was very positive, with people commenting that they now have a better understanding of vegetarianism and vegetarian cooking and have been introduced to foods that they hadn’t tried before. We hope it will lead to longer term changes to people’s health as they start to eat a wider variety of vegetarian foods, such as pulses, vegetables, nuts and fruit.”

Another new activity that has been very popular is the bike club. The group build their own bicycles from scratch using recycled parts from old bikes, and learn how to keep them in good repair. Once they’ve finished their bike they celebrate with a cycling trip – the latest outing was an exploration of the Erewash canal network.

The bike club has really motivated and inspired people. It is a fantastic achievement when someone completes their bike. One participant, Luke, was particularly enthusiastic when his bike was finished, showing it off to everybody and getting out on it at the first opportunity. Several people have started going on cycling trips in their own time outside the project, and one person recently told us that he went on a bike ride in the evening to stop himself from staying at home and drinking.

The aim of Vegetarian Week, the bike club and all of the activities at Growing Lives is to reduce the social and health inequalities faced by people in Erewash, Amber Valley and Derby. Derventio Housing Trust have created an environment where people can develop their self-confidence and motivation, believe in themselves, gain new skills and improve their mental and physical health.


Growing Lives is run by Derventio Housing Trust, a Community Interest Company that provides housing, support and opportunities to help people to make sustained changes to their lives. For more information about Derventio Housing Trust or the Growing Lives project visit or contact 01332 292776 /


Growing Lives is supported by Public Health Derbyshire to provide free places for people in recovery from drug and alcohol use.

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