Spadework provides horticultural land-based activities for people in County Durham with special educational needs and disabilities.

The aim is to give participants the opportunity to work with other people in a supportive and friendly environment so they can acquire new, and develop existing horticultural skills. Clients must be aged 18 or over to take part.

Spadework was established in 1996 by the College and Durham County Council to provide horticultural and working skills activities for adults with learning and mild learning disabilities. Spadework is now solely run and administered by East Durham College.

The Spadework logo which is made up of the word SPADEWORK and the words East Durham College underneath it

What You Will Do?

Clients take part in all types of gardening tasks, working in the plant centre, sawing, chopping and delivering logs, as well as preparing bird and pet foods to sell. The team also help with the maintenance of the College grounds.

Spadework is a work-based training programme so clients will need to be willing to take part in some hard physical work. So this training may not be right for everyone. A free taster session can be arranged to help potential clients find out if Spadework is for them.

Where Are We Based?

Spadework is based at East Durham College’s Houghall Campus, in Durham, and the activities take place both on and off site. These may be community projects which include public gardens, schools, churches and private gardens.

When Are We Open?

We are open Monday to Friday (except Wednesdays and Bank holidays), 48 weeks of the year.

Spadework starts at 9am each day and finishes at 4pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 3pm on a Friday.

For details on when Spadework is closed, please speak to a member of the team.

What’s The Costs?

The current fee is £38.53 per day per person. Please Note: Anyone wishing to join Spadework must be referred by their Social Services Care Manager.


For more details please call the Spadework Team on 0191 375 4751 or speak to the Houghall Reception on 0191 375 4710. You can also email Spadework at