Grounded Ecotherapy

Community, Third Sector • Lambeth, Tower Hamlets

Making space for nature so more people can enjoy and benefit from experiencing nature in London.

Grounded's story

Grounded Ecotherapy is a social enterprise that was setup by Paul Pulford, a Providence Row Housing Association resident in Tower Hamlets, to offer volunteers – some of whom have experienced problems with substance addiction, poor mental health and homelessness – therapy through horticulture. A former addict living on the streets, Paul called his group Grounded, because that was how he felt. “I knew that everything I was doing was healing me.”

Gradually, Grounded was asked to take on new projects in the community. Its big break came in 2009, when the Eden Project, working with various prisons and homeless groups, invited Paul to work on the Key Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. It was a runaway success. A couple of years later, London’s Southbank Centre approached the Eden Project to create a sustainable roof garden and they asked Grounded to build it. The ‘pop up’ garden opened to the public initially for one summer, as part of the centre’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

This garden on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall has remained in place ever since and has become one of the most popular venues on the Southbank, with tens of thousands of visitors every year. It is a haven for birds, bees, butterflies and wild flowers, as well as harassed office workers. More than 150 different kinds of native British herbs and flowers bloom between orchard and ornamental trees in raised beds, in a flourishing urban roof garden that is still maintained by Paul and his team.

To hear more about Grounded Ecotherapy from Paul, listen to the Carbon Copy Podcast Running Out of Time special episode featuring this initiative.

Useful learnings from Grounded

Making space for nature, in our lives and cities, is vital to our mental health and overall wellbeing. These spaces can be both large and small, from city parks to rooftop gardens; the magic is in their accessibility and in the ability for people to experience nature.

There isn't one single definition of ecotherapy and one size does not fit all. It's often used to describe a regular, structured activity that takes place in nature and is related to exploring and appreciating the natural world; focuses on doing an activity, rather than on your health; and involves spending time with others in nature. The main focus is usually working together on the shared activity, where the cumulative effects of time in nature have positive outcomes for the people involved.

Grounded's metrics

The thriving flora and fauna. The help we provide to people through our volunteering and ecotherapy programmes. The number of visitors to our roof garden and other sites we help to maintain.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area


Response to climate crisis





Community, Third Sector, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Carbon Copy

Updated Jun, 2024

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