Patients, visitors, and NHS staff to benefit from improved garden space at Newton Community Hospital
The gardening project started last year, and an analysis shows that for every £1 invested, over £13 in social value was created
An inclusive gardening project will run at Newton Community Hospital (NCH) in St Helens throughout the rest of this year, allowing people with learning disabilities, autism, and mental health concerns to learn and develop new gardening skills.
The innovative project is being led by national social care charity, Community Integrated Care, and is being funded by healthcare investor, Renova, with additional support and investment from Community Health Partnerships (CHP).
CHP is the head tenant at the hospital, responsible for providing facilities management for various NHS services including a 30-bed inpatient ward.
These patients are often older people moving from the hospital, via intermediate care at NCH, then returning to their homes.
St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust team, which provides inpatient ward services at Newton Community Hospital, also provided a new potting shed and garden furniture for the outdoor space.
The project builds on a successful initiative in 2021 which saw Community Integrated Care and the people it supports create an accessible garden space at the hospital.
The Newton Community Hospital gardening club has created life-changing opportunities for many people who access care and support, and enabled care services across the region to connect with a passion for gardening
And detailed analysis of last year’s activities showed that for every £1 invested, over £13 in social value was created.
To continue this work, the new inclusive gardening project is now underway and will run for a full year, including:
The project will give people who access care and support a platform to form friendships, achieve personal successes, and develop horticultural skills.
Community Integrated Care will re-engage volunteers from last year’s initiative, as well as engaging new volunteers, creating opportunities for personal and social development and a potential pathway to paid work or volunteering.
And an online learning component will be introduced for those in care who are unable to access the opportunity in person.
Using online learning, even more people will be able to gain new skills, improve their personal development and develop their gardens at home.
The accessible garden space, built and planted in summer 2021, will be further maintained and improved. A professional gardener has been appointed to help oversee the space and the training of volunteers involved in the project.
Gardening work will include herb basket making, planting and cutting of flower beds, potato growing, wildflower meadow creation, as well as willow and hazel fence making.
Community Integrated Care is the Official Social Care Partner of the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) tournament that will take place in Autumn 2022, so the RWLC will continue to be a key theme of the planting work taking place at Newton Community Hospital, including RWLC-themed planters.
It cannot be understated how important it is that people who access social care have aspirational opportunities to make friends, develop talents, and enjoy new experiences
There are also plans for a celebration event later this year, with RLWC representatives and players meeting with volunteers and staff and key partners from the garden project.
John Hughes, director of partnerships and communities at Community Integrated Care, said: “The Newton Community Hospital gardening club was an incredible success in its first year. It has created life-changing opportunities for many people who access care and support, and enabled care services across the region to connect with a passion for gardening.
“It cannot be understated how important it is that people who access social care have aspirational opportunities to make friends, develop talents, and enjoy new experiences.
“Renova and CHP should be commended for their vision in backing this project and I would like to thank our partners for their real commitment to making a difference to the lives of people who are frequently overlooked in society.”
We understand that gardening and horticultural therapy reduces anxiety and improves overall wellbeing while also helping to combat loneliness and social isolation
Renova general manager, Shaun Anders, added: “We are proud to continue our funding for the inclusive gardening project at Newton Community Hospital, which is not only offering unique opportunities to those in social care, but also offering a huge boost to everyone at the hospital with a welcoming garden space to enjoy.
“We look forward to the project and community garden continuing to take shape over the coming months.”
And Simon Waters, CHP national lead for social value and corporate social responsibility, said: “We understand that gardening and horticultural therapy reduces anxiety and improves overall wellbeing while also helping to combat loneliness and social isolation.
“It is for these reasons that it’s so important to have projects such as this in the heart of the community and we look forward to seeing the garden and the users thrive over the coming year.”