A piece of wasteland will be transformed into a beautiful therapy garden to help people with serious mental health illnesses thanks to £100,000 of fundraising.
The idea to create the garden at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation’s Trust’s Wedgwood Unit – a hospital in West Suffolk which cares for people with a range of serious mental health illnesses - was first presented 18 months ago. Since then staff, patients, their families, carers and the wider community have been raising money to turn the dream into reality.
This week the original fundraising target of £100,000 was reached and work can now start to provide interactive areas, quiet, safe spaces for reflection, areas for cultivating and a meditation meadow. The designs have been created by garden designer Mia Witham, who specialises in the development of outdoor therapeutic spaces to improve mental health.
NSFT’s Katherine Falk, assistant psychologist and co-lead on the project, said: “This is an amazing achievement, although building costs have soared over the last year so there’s still another £20,000 to raise. However, this isn’t stopping the main build going ahead during June and July, with a view to having the garden up and running in August.”
A huge £40,000 funding boost came from a recent grant from The St Edmunds Trust, which will pay for a Growing Garden which will include raised beds for flowers, fruit and vegetables and a solardome - an enclosed, transparent indoor space which feels outdoors - where people can meet for workshops and creative activities.
Katherine said: “The Growing Garden will be the main focus of activities with patients and outreach groups, and the solardome will be at the centre of this. It is amazing that we can include the solardome in the main build this year, as we thought we would have to wait to raise further funds for this landmark element of the garden. We are incredibly grateful to the St Edmunds Trust.”
Hazel Pidsley, chairman of The St Edmunds Trust said: “We are very pleased to support part of the Wedgwood Garden Therapy Project which will help people with their recovery and the opportunity to enjoy and participate in horticulture and the natural environment.”
Katherine said emphasis was now shifting to planning how best to use the new space and what workshops and activities to run.
“We’d love to involve community teams and patient groups as well as the wider community,” she said.
The project is already collaborating with local voluntary organisations, including the Green Light Trust, the Gatehouse, MIND, Bury Drop In, Art Branches, the Steam House Café and Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
Fundraising is continuing for the remaining £20,000 and Katherine will take part in the Stockholm Marathon on 3 June, running with her son, Will.
She said: “Since February, I’ve completed 433km in running training, not bad for someone approaching 60 and before last summer never having jogged more than two miles at a time before – and that was a rare occasion. I have to admit that it is quite a tough ask and I’m looking forward to it all being over. Last Saturday, I got up at 5am to do the Little Ouse Trail – 10 miles in each direction between Thetford and Brandon. It took me 4 hours and 15 minutes to do the 20 miles which was encouraging as it made me realise I might be able to do another six miles in the allotted time frame to complete the marathon before the organisers close up for the day.”
If you would like to sponsor Katherine and raise funds for the garden visit Wedgwood House Therapy Garden or search Wedgwood House Therapy Garden on JustGiving.