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New well-being garden to help improve care environment

11 Jul 22


A NEW well-being and sensory garden has been officially opened as part of plans to further improve the caring environment at a mental health facility for young people.

Multiple settings have been created in the garden for service users under CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) community services, their families and staff at 15 Forest Lane, Radlett, run by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. The gardens are also available for in-service patients at Forest House.

With key input from the young people’s council, which represents service users accessing (CAMHS), the site has been designed to offer different areas for varying purposes - enjoyment, meditation or as meeting places.

The emphasis is on providing therapeutic spaces for creative activities, gardening or simply as a place to relax. For example, there is the Welcome Pergola where groups can take part in outside art therapy or the Kitchen Garden, with raised beds and a small greenhouse, where seasonal herbs and vegetables are grown and used in the on-site kitchen as part of cooking therapy.

The site also includes:

The Orchard: A fresh open place to relax, play and run in.
Meditation Labyrinth: An open grassed space laid with stones forming the shape of a labyrinth for either a meditative walk, a play feature for younger children or a large open space for group work.
Pebble Sphere: An area, inspired by young service users, of established planting where painted pebbles can be placed under the sphere to form a calm and colourful reflection.
Meadow: A place to sit and enjoy the environment, climb on the tactile boulders and where the wildflowers will attract wildlife.
The Retreat: Tucked away among the trees this provides space for 1:1 meetings or small group or family sessions.

Sandra Brookes, Trust Executive Director of Service Delivery and Experience, who has championed this project, officially opened the garden on Thursday 7 July, a first of its type for the Trust.

She said: “The garden is an area of exceptional beauty, diversity and quiet and is an enormous addition to what we are able to offer at Forest Lane.

“It is widely recognised that outside spaces, areas of calm and working creatively with plants and the environment, can be a real help during treatment and supporting recovery. The garden will also help our clinical and administrative staff, when not working, with the opportunity to be somewhere that they can enjoy, relax and reflect in.

“The garden offers windows for creative expression that could be as simple as engaging in an activity such as gardening or making something, or the act of tending the immediate environment and nurturing plants which we know have strong symbolic and therapeutic values in care.”

The project was managed by WT Partnership, the garden designed by Mia Witham of Formal Landscapes and work on the transformation was carried out by contractors Stewart Landscapes, with support from the Trust’s Estates Team.

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