Mental health trust hopes new garden at Norwich hospital will help patients blossom

Ann Shreeve, centre pictured with staff and volunteers who came together to transform the outside sp

Ann Shreeve, centre pictured with staff and volunteers who came together to transform the outside space at the opening of the healing garden at Thurne Ward, Hellesdon Hospital. Picture: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Green-fingered volunteers have used their skills to give service users, staff and carers at East Anglia's mental health trust a special Christmas gift.

Staff and volunteers came together to transform the outside space at the opening of the healing gard

Staff and volunteers came together to transform the outside space at the opening of the healing garden at Thurne Ward, Hellesdon Hospital. Ann Shreeve, who was the inspiration behind the project. Picture: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

The group has created a healing garden at the Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich – the first of its kind on the site – which is designed to help recovery and boost emotional, physical and mental wellbeing.

The project for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) saw a sparse garden and the front entrance to the Thurne Ward at the hospital renovated, with new paths and seating areas and extensive planting to keep the garden colourful all year round.

A new kitchen garden planted with apple trees, strawberries and herbs is available for occupational therapists to use with patients, and a space for outside activities such as yoga has also been created.

The project was the brainchild of carer Ann Shreeve, whose son has received treatment at the hospital.


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'It has been absolutely amazing,' she said. 'It was very hard work, but definitely worth it. The entrance to the ward now looks so much more welcoming, and shows the area is well cared for.

'We are all so pleased with the way the garden looks. Patients told us that they wanted it to be bright, so we have included a variety of flowers to keep the interest all year round and provide a succession of colour as the season progress.

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'As Thurne is an assessment ward, some of the service users receiving treatment are very unwell. We hope that the new-look garden will help lift people's spirits and become part of their recovery journey.'

Matron Charlie Loades, who supported the project, said: 'Evidence shows that calm and inviting outside spaces can have a really positive impact on mental, emotional and physical health. As well as stimulating the senses, they can help people to relax so that they can better manage negative thoughts and feelings, which is why this project is so important.'

Phase two of the garden project is expected to start in the new year. In the longer term, NSFT hopes to develop other healing gardens at Hellesdon for the benefit of patients receiving care on all of its wards and service users accessing support through clinics, as well as carers and staff.

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