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  1. 1. Getting a place at a garden project This briefing paper aims to outline the main issues that need to be considered when referring someone to a gardening project. Every week over 24,000 people in the UK are involved in social and therapeutic horticulture projects. These projects are set up exclusively to work with disabled and disadvantaged people. Their purpose is to use the medium of gardening and horticulture to provide positive opportunities to promote health and quality of life with a real chance to gain new skills and confidence. Thrive knows of over 850 social and therapeutic gardening projects throughout the UK. Given the number of projects it is not surprising that a great variety exists between them. There is no one central referring organisation and each project is free to offer a range of services based on where they get their funding from and to whom they are accountable. Projects vary in every way: from the type of activities, size of the project, people who attend and how they are organised. Some will be independent charities others will be part of the local NHS trust or social services. Some will work with disabled and vulnerable people including those with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and mental health needs. Others will work with older people, those recovering from ill-health or accidents and a wide range of groups such as young offenders, ethnic minority groups, refugees and people recovering from alcohol or drug abuse. This can make it complicated to find out what is available and for whom. Given the variety of gardening projects and people attending, the benefits of going to a project can vary enormously. On one level, it can just be a relaxing and pleasant environment to be enjoyed; on another it can completely change around a person’s life. Benefits of attending · Promotes mental health – the activities, team work and environment create a very good opportunity to break down psychological barriers and prejudice while addressing isolation, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It can provide just the right level of responsibility and purpose that someone needs to feel wanted, useful and with an important role to perform. The nurturing of plants and being in the Thrive Briefing natural environment are also significant tools to help people grow. Sheet no: · Promotes physical health – gardening activities promote fitness and a general sense of wellbeing. Gardening can build · up muscle strength and stamina while also offering food for a healthy diet. 6
  2. 2. · Provides education and training opportunities – both formal (NPTC, NVQ) and informal skills acquisition including Contacts numeracy, literacy and communication skills. · Builds self-confidence and self-esteem – achievements and Thrive Gardens effort are often very tangible. Projects help build the confidence and social skills needed to support a person in Battersea Garden Project becoming an active member of society. Battersea Park · Enables people to feel more involved in their local community Albert Bridge Road – projects often sell produce on and off site at farmers’ London SW11 4NJ markets and organic box schemes. Contract maintenance T: 020 7720 2212 work and the presence of volunteers at projects also help W: people to get to know their community better. battersea@thrive.org.uk · Provides employment opportunities – some projects focus firmly on preparing and then supporting people to take on Trunkwell Garden Project Trunkwell Park employment opportunities. Beech Hill · Restores strength and mobility – gardening offers many Reading RG7 2AT opportunities to aid recovery, for example improving motor T: 0118 988 4844 and sensory skills after an accident, brain injury or stroke. W: trunkwell@thrive.org.uk Costs and how people attend Most projects work on a fee paying basis. The fee will vary depending on the project, starting at £25 per day upwards. The variation will depend on the type of activities available, what funding the project has and the support needs of the person interested in attending – for example whether they need constant help or supervision during the day. This fee is usually paid by the local authority or through a grant that the project has been given. There are a variety of ways that people can be referred: 1. Ring the project direct – this would be the preferred option. Each has its own method of recruiting new people. Explain what you are looking for and they will be able to tell you whether the project could help meet the person’s needs and what the options are for having the person’s fee paid. Some projects may have places paid for through donations or special grants. It is always worth asking. 2. Contact the appropriate social services department – typically through a social worker linked to a learning difficulties team or to adult care and through community psychiatric services for adults or children. These teams may have set up an agreement with the gardening project to pay the fee for an eligible person. If they haven’t got an agreement they may be willing to set this up as a result of the interest and need of the person concerned.  3.  Contact your local primary health care trust – typically through a psychiatric nurse or community occupational therapist. Again they may have links with the gardening projects in the area and also pay fees where appropriate.
  3. 3. 4. Contact your local Council for Voluntary Services – their number will be in the telephone book, local library or the help desk at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. These Contacts services often have listed all the voluntary organisations in a locality. There is likely to be more than one gardening project National Council for within travelling distance. Voluntary Organisations Regent’s Wharf Frequently asked questions 8 All Saints Street Who can attend a social and therapeutic horticulture project? London N1 9RL Telephone helpdesk: Typically people attend because they are in need of support to 0800 2 798 798 promote or improve their health or for educational, training or E: ncvo@ncvo-vol.org.uk employment purposes. As projects vary so much it is important to W: www.ncvo-vol.org.uk find out what facilities each project may have. Some specialise in catering for people with disabilities, others have a mix of people attending together. Some may also be part of a community garden BTCV where there is a lot more open access. Always contact the project Sedum House, Mallard direct to find out whether the person you are thinking of could Way, Potteric Carr, attend or consider arranging a visit with the person who may be Doncaster DN4 8DB referred. T: 01302 388 888 E: Does a person need to have any specialist knowledge and or Information@btcv.org.uk gardening skills to attend? W: www.btcv.org uk The only thing a person needs is an interest to come to the project. Gardening and horticultural skills are learnt on site. It is no good if Groundwork UK it is someone else’s idea but the truth is they really have no interest. Gardening offers a wide variety of choices. Sometimes Lockside, 5 Scotland Street, Birmingham just the passive enjoyment of being in the garden is a benefit. It B1 2RR really depends on the person and what the project is set up to Tel: 0121 236 8565 achieve. E: info@groundwork.org.uk Does the person have to bring any specialist clothing? W: Working in the garden can be a mucky business. The project staff www.groundwork.org.uk will talk through what a person attending a project needs to wear which is usually something that is comfortable, appropriate for the weather and easily washable. Lots of layers are best especially in the winter. Most projects will provide steel capped boots or Wellingtons where necessary and gardening gloves. A lot of work is also done inside, be it in the greenhouse, potting shed or workroom. Is there a set amount of time you have to be at the project? Given the diverse range of needs, usually there is no set time to attend. Some people come for a few hours each week, while others come all day for five days. It will depend on the person, the project, and the number of places and fee available. What exactly might a person do at a gardening project? This will depend on the circumstances and needs of the person as much as the purpose of the project. The aim is to enable people to
  4. 4. carry out tasks as independently as possible. This means a lot Are there other options if of gardening techniques and the design of the garden may have a gardening project been adapted. Typically a person will carry out a range of doesn’t work out? gardening activities according to the season. This will include activities such as planting, watering, weeding, cutting grass, Below are a few making compost, potting up plants for sale and taking cuttings. suggestions. Please see Some projects also provide specialist skills training such as path the contact list for further laying, fence building and willow weaving. details How would a person get to the horticulture project? · There is always Typically people have to arrange their own transport to a looking after your own gardening project. Some projects organise collective transport; or someone else’s others will rely on hospital vehicles, a taxi, private car or public garden. Thrive has transport. It is important to clarify how and who pays for this. some very useful Some projects may negotiate transport to be included in the information about adaptive gardening in fee. Others may not be so lucky. the home How are specialist requirements catered for? When discussing a person who would like to attend it is likely · British Trust for staff will want to clarify the full needs of the person interested. Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) This will include whether a person has any physical needs i.e. runs an extensive uses a wheelchair or has special medical conditions which may range of conservation require additional one to one support e.g. assistance with projects that could be injections or medication to be taken during the day. The project suitable will need to discuss what level of support is required by the individual. Gardens and horticultural sites have many health and · Groundwork organise safety elements to them. Judging the correct level of support is a whole range of essential. This could mean that a space at the project would environmental and only be available if additional support could be found. This is conservation activities something to think through and be sure to discuss in full. It is within local important to get the balance of independence and safety right communities. for all. How Thrive can help 1. Thrive can provide you with a list of projects in your area. It will then be up to you to contact projects and discuss your needs. 2. Thrive has two of its own garden projects. There may be places available at one of these gardens. 3. Thrive has a series of publications and useful contacts to enable you to find out more about social and therapeutic horticulture projects and adaptive gardening. 4. Please look on our two websites www.thrive.org.uk and www.carryongardening.org.uk for more information.