The volunteer groups have been set up as part of the Lanarkshire NHS Green Health Project (1) and recently joined forces with the Clydesdale Food Network which supplies locally grown produce to the Clydesdale Foodbank as well as weekly healthy eating sessions at Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) Community Kitchen based in Lanark (2). This project is led by Scottish Natural Heritage and supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, NHS, Transport Scotland, Get Outdoors Lanarkshire and Clydesdale Community Initiatives.
Activities at each of the hospital sites see volunteers growing food, learning new horticultural skills, planting fruit trees and improving each site for people and biodiversity.
CCI sessional workers Laura Gilchrist and Jamie Hope said,
“This project has been running at the Lanarkshire NHS sites with great success and are open to all. Not only have we grown a huge range of veg, but the hospitals have also used the produce for healthy eating groups making potato scones, soup and apple tarts. The Clydesdale Community Kitchen and the Clydesdale Foodbank have also benefitted with weekly donations of fresh produce. Being outdoors encourages people to be more active and to connect with nature. This helps build peoples’ confidence to try new things and reduces isolation.”
Volunteers commenting on their work said,
‘’There are always different jobs to do. I like working with different people, getting to work in a team, it is good support here too.’’
‘’I feel fitter and more active’’
‘’It makes us feel happier and healthier. We’d all recommend other patients to join.’’
More details on the activities of each hospital group and future plans are below:
At Lady Home (Douglas), volunteers tidied up the courtyard and planted it with winter/spring bedding and bulbs. Future plans will develop work with Douglas Primary School and run sessions for inpatients, construct raised beds and redesign the internal courtyards as a sensory, therapeutic, growing area. With the festive season coming up pupils will be involved in making Christmas decorations and helping to decorate the hospital.
At Kirklands (Bothwell), new planters/benches were filled with soil and planted with some colourful winter bedding and bulbs. NHS participants have been cooking with their vegetables as well as contributing to the food bank. They have also cleared and tidied the therapy garden at Kyle Park in Blantyre. Future plans include building two willow sculptures (a highland cow and stag), making a planter seating, creating an orchard and two courtyards.
At Cleland Hospital, volunteers have put the garden to bed for the winter with lots of clearing, weeding, leaf raking as well as bulb planting. Inpatients will be making Christmas wreaths from willow.
At Coathill, green fingered volunteers have been cutting back branches and creating a wind shield for a new growing area which will be planted with potatoes. Grounds around the polytunnel has been cleared to create more growing space. Willow work was carried out and raised beds were painted.
To find out more about volunteering with the hospital groups, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01555 664211. Find out about a green health opportunity near you at http://www.elament.org.uk/support-projects-groups/projects-campaigns/greenspace/.