A pretty garden isn’t just beautiful to look at, there are also many health benefits if you’re prepared to dig in. Rooftop has a Health and Well-being team and mental health outreach worker who regularly arrange activities that can be of benefit to our customers and the Lydney Gardening Project is one of them.
Lydney Gateway is part of our Young Person’s Service and provides accommodation for up to 10 young people who have already faced many challenges in life. The Lydney property has quite a large garden area, which was not going to win any plaudits for its looks.
Members of our Gloucester Health and Wellbeing Team came up with the idea of doing a makeover when our Mental Health Outreach worker, Christine Searl sent them details of how gardening can improve your health in a variety of ways. Christine read about the National Gardens Scheme, which has called for doctors to prescribe patients with gardening on the NHS. A report published by The King’s Fund has recognised that there are a variety of health benefits from gardening, including reducing depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress. Working on your garden is also an excellent way to get all-round exercise for improving strength, endurance and flexibility and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other medical conditions.
Rooftop partnered with Marks and Spencer in Monmouth, who provided volunteers and a donation of £500 as part of National Volunteers Week. The young people from Lydney pitched in enthusiastically and at the beginning of June a major transformation began to take shape. It was important that the project was customer led and the residents from Lydney Gateway came up with lots of ideas for the space such as graffiti art (that will be phase 2!) a vegetable patch and a wildflower area.
We were very fortunate to also receive donations from B & Q, Lydney skips hire, a lot of gorgeous bedding plants from Ewan McKay, father of our Job Coach, Gemma and 2 old tractor tyres donated by the brother of Rooftop’s Annette Bazeley, to be used as planters. More plants were donated by the local Coinros Park Nursery. We also benefitted from the loan of lots of equipment for the day and Neil Stansbie, the Gardener at Lydney, helped with extra hours of preparation and also dug out the veg plot.
In just a day, with so many people involved, the transformation was amazing and the rewards for the customers were plain to see. Everyone worked so hard, weeding, moving earth and turf into the skip, moving compost piles, painting the fence, planting, raking and installing 2 new rotary driers.
The hard work doesn’t stop here, as the new garden will need to be maintained and there are plans to keep improving the area, but the smiles on everybody’s faces at the end of the day was proof enough that gardening really does bring a lot of joy.