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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1
Persons: Up to 4 per month
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 35297
Country: England

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Last Updated: December 4, 2017

From December 1st, Grow Heathrow is open to new volunteers of all genders, for a 2-month trial period.

At this point we are able to accept 4 new volunteers per month: after being here for a week as a guest, you can apply to be a volunteer for another 3 weeks, following which you will have the opportunity to apply to be a long term volunteer for 3 months. This is so we can all get to know each other and make sure we're going to get along in the long run!

It's chilly and gets dark early at this time of year, so you will need to come equipped with warm winter clothes, a sleeping bag and a torch!

On to the story of how we came to be...

There are a few acres of land by the M4 and M25 motorways in west London where three dilapidated greenhouses stand. Since 2010 a group of activists, local residents and people living off-grid have worked to return them to their original purpose as a market garden, and to make them into a community centre.

At meetings we use a process called consensus decision-making. It can be slow and complicated by personal issues, but it is often chosen by activists as it is better than voting or formal hierarchy at giving everyone an equal voice.

We grow and forage food, but most comes from waste from wholesalers and supermarkets. Like many people on low incomes, we ‘go skipping’, looking for bread, pastries, fruit and veg thrown out at the end of the day. We also save money by cooking in bulk as we share dinner together.

We are off-grid, using electricity from a wind turbine and solar panels. This is always enough for efficient lights, music and charging phones. When it’s sunny or windy there is energy to charge laptops and for haircuts. However, we still cook using gas rather than wood. Volunteers and residents are asked to donate £10 a month to cover basics such as oil, staples, gas and mains water.

The best days to visit are on our Community Workdays on Thursday and Saturday. The community work day runs from 9.30am till mid afternoon, so join us at any time to get stuck in on site.

Visitors can stay for two weeks; if you want to stay longer you can ask to do so at our weekly meetings.

Outside Thursdays residents can seem busy doing their own thing and it can be challenging to know how to get involved. Other land-based projects organise more of a schedule for volunteers and might suit some people better. If you’re independent and self-motivated to get stuck in growing veg, chopping wood, cooking, playing music and welcoming visitors, you’re likely to enjoy yourself.

You can also check the website for workshops and events like green building weeks.

We took direct action to squat land blocking Heathrow’s third runway to prevent the climate crime of airport expansion. Please consider our legal status as squatters. This means we don't own the land.

Unfortunately a lot of paths are uneven or covered in wood chip which makes them really challenging for wheelchair users. It can be done, and has been done various times with a personal assistant. When we build new structures we try to put in ramps and repair broken paths, but unfortunately there is one step into the guest cabin and about four steps into the compost loo.

Grow Heathrow are looking for reliable, creative people that align themselves with the aims of the project. All you growers, foragers, community organisers, bike mechanics and more, get in touch if you’re interested.

Grow Heathrow is a community project as well as our home, so give us notice before you come and stay. Please send us an email or phone in beforehand. If you could write simply what you’re interested in, what your experience is, where you heard about us, and why you want to be involved with Grow Heathrow.

Anyone can stay for up to a week as a guest. If, after a week, you would like to stay longer, you can ask to be a volunteer for up to 3 weeks at our weekly site meetings on Wednesday evening.

After a month, visitors can request to become a ‘long-term volunteer’ from 1 to 3 months. This must be with the understanding that you are expected to hold a higher level of responsibility for the project and for the wellbeing of the collective.

After this first month at Grow Heathrow, following a request to be a long term volunteer, visitors are asked to leave Grow Heathrow for 10 days to give both the community and the visitor a chance to reflect on their presence in the community.

The ‘long-term volunteer’ status is reviewed within 3 months on a date specified by the collective and the volunteer.

Our volunteer guidelines are a way of ensuring that everyone gets the most out of spending time onsite. There are some situations in which these guidelines may not be appropriate, and we encourage you to email us or come along for a chat to see how we can accommodate everyone’s needs.

How to get here?

Cycle along the Grand Union canal, hitch to junction 4 on the M4 or get the train to West Drayton or Hounslow West and then the 222 bus to Harmondsworth Lane. Of course, please don’t travel here or back by plane - one flight between continents can emit 4.6 tonnes of CO2 - that’s the same as 340,000 plastic bags.


Agree with the wider aims of the Transition Heathrow project such as resisting airport expansion, lowering carbon emissions and improving community resilience in the Heathrow villages.

We have four main Aims:

o To further the Heathrow villages as an iconic symbol of community resistance to the economic, ecological and democratic crises.

o To develop and promote community and resource autonomy to support long-term community resilience

o To establish replicable structures of organisation, which could provide a model for future non-hierarchical, consensus-based communities.

o To root the grassroots radical values of the 3rd runway resistance in the Heathrow villages for the long term

· Abide by all collective decisions taken during the weekly site meetings.

· Staying on site two days and two nights per week if possible, and/or commit to ensuring there are always two people on-site accepting that it might not always be convenient.

· Positively interact with the wider community.

· Welcoming and helping visitors, and encouraging more people to visit the site.

· Help out in at least one working group.

· Contribute up to £25 a month for essential site costs (or contributing to food non-monetarily).

· Answer the site phone and passing on messages.

· Keeping all communal spaces presentable by tidying up any mess, especially before going to bed.

· Generally supporting others in what work they’re doing on site, including being aware of other people’s workloads, helping avoid burnout in others, and attending events/projects that are organised by others.

· Skill-share wherever possible.

· Be self-aware: consider taking yourself away from the site to avoid stress for yourself and the collective if you find this space a difficult place to live or cannot find agreement with these stated shared principles.

· The only people who should have keys are residents. Anyone else who wants a key is allowed to at the discretion of the group at a Wednesday meeting.

· Challenge gender stereotypes through behaviour, language and attitude – not to occupy negative gender stereotypes or enforce them on others..

· Grow Heathrow is a non-hierarchical space. However, power relations will inevitably emerge. We should all do our best to be mindful of them and proactive in challenging them. Treat everyone as you would want to be treated.

· Attend weekly site meetings and resistance Thursday, and give notice (or explanation) if you are unable to attend.

· Not consuming drugs or alcohol in the daytime.

Larger society is infused with rape culture. Grow Heathrow residents take a strong stance against rape culture and agree to call individuals out when rape language is used, and support each other in challenging this.


Being involved with Grow Heathrow should require a commitment to resolving one’s personal conflicts. Consider approaching a member of the wellbeing working group or any other resident you feel comfortable with, if you feel you have a conflict with another individual on site and would like some advice or support.

Direct resolution: Try and resolve the conflicts directly between those parties involved.

Mediated resolution: If this fails or if either party refuse to take part in resolving the conflict then the next step is to find a neutral mediator either internal or external to Grow Heathrow. A request to go to a neutral mediator must be answered within two weeks.

Well-being Group resolution: Move to the well-being group who will try and resolve it. This may involve further mediation as well other methods.

Site meeting resolution: If after trying different things the well-being group can’t resolve the conflict then as a last resort they can take it to a whole group meeting to decide on what further course of action should be taken.

The group’s consensus decision (minus the parties involved) in the conflict must be respected by those parties. If they do not respect this decision then they should question whether they should be in the group. As a group we will commit to helping people though the process.


In writing this policy we acknowledge that the creation of a safe working and living environment for all will be conducive to our collective functioning and the practical application of our ideals and principles.

It is a mutual agreement to be taken on and considered by all group participants in order to facilitate the cooperative functioning and well-being of the group.

Our site will be a space where people feel supported and respected by one another and motivated to work together cooperatively. Intimidation and discrimination will not be tolerated.

Respect people’s physical and emotional boundaries.
We run our meetings and our space using the process of consensus which allows everyone an equal voice in Grow Heathrow. We ask those on site to abide by collective decisions reached by consensus.
We try to be an equal space. There is no space for discrimination against others on any grounds, including but not exclusive to religion, gender identification, race, mental health, political affiliation, (dis)ability, sexuality.
Take responsibility for your own actions, and consider how your behaviour and speech affect others. Remember that not everyone reacts the same way.
Respect other’s thoughts and opinions. This doesn’t mean we all have to agree, but that discussion is entered into without prejudice or personal insult.
There may be certain situations when you feel comfortable using language which some may find offensive or derogatory – Grow Heathrow is not an appropriate space for this. You do not know who will overhear you, and how they will react to this.
Look out for others, and try not to leave anything around that may endanger their physical safety.
Be aware of yourself and how you are feeling. If you need assistance, do not be afraid to ask someone or call a friend. Removing yourself physically from a situation can be a great help.
We are a working site… no booze in the day except special occasions.
Police in unifom/on duty are not allowed on site

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