Mental health centre transforms gardens into wildlife haven

Gardens at a mental health recovery centre have been turned into a lively retreat for patients and local wildlife. 

The team at the East Glade Centre in Frecheville collaborated with the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust to hold tree and flower planting events. The gardens will also feature a wildflower meadow and fruit orchard.

According to research, outdoor spaces are extremely beneficial for patients’ wellbeing, providing them with a way to alleviate stress.

Victoria Catton, Occupational Therapist at East Glade, said: “Our aim has always been to improve the habitat and increase biodiversity at East Glade. As mental health professionals we know how therapeutic beautiful green spaces are for service users and our staff who work here. It’s been fantastic to include our service users in the work as it gives them a stake in the site alongside access to the therapeutic benefits of nature.”

She added that NHS Forest, a project that works with healthcare organisations to improve access to green spaces, have donated cherry and crabapple trees.

The centre hoped to encourage sustainability in the community and improve the environment, which resulted in the partnership with the Wildlife Trust.

Megan Carroll, Nature Recovery Community Engagement Officer at the trust, said: “It’s been great to work with the occupational therapy team and service users to plant trees, develop pollinator-friendly flower beds and explore the possibilities of looking after the site in a wildlife-friendly way, such as mowing the lawns less often.

“As well as the incredible health benefits, initiatives such as this play a part in helping to tackle the recently declared nature emergency. I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits for people and wildlife as the seasons progress.”

The improvements come as Sheffield Health and Social Care Foundation Trust (SHSC) plans to launch its Green Plan over the coming weeks. 

SHSC said that whilst the city has a reputation for its record-breaking number of trees, it is also a “complicated modern city with some stark social and health inequalities: there’s a 10 year difference between the poorest and most affluent areas”.

As a major employer, they are working to reduce their carbon footprint and make their services more environmentally friendly. 

The plan will set out steps for this, including using electric vehicles and e-bikes, relying on renewable energy, and planting trees at all sites.

Written by Katy Roberts

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