Last autumn he joined a new Social and Therapeutic Horticulture programme run by Thrive Birmingham for those who have experienced a life-changing health condition.
In Bill’s case, a stroke left him impaired and needing to use a stick to walk, but 12 weeks of being on our Life Changers programme has seen him make real progress.
Weekly gardening sessions alongside our horticultural therapy team have worked on his physical needs which have resulted in him ‘feeling fitter for being outside’.
Activities such as seed sowing, taking cuttings and potting plants, have helped his balance and improved his strength.
The result, he says, is that he feels ‘a lot’ happier as a direct result of gardening and he has gained skills which have increased his interest in growing plants.
Coming to Thrive’s King’s Heath Park gardens and having contact with other client gardeners with life-limiting conditions – albeit under Covid restrictions – has also been beneficial.
‘I feel socially coming here has helped my mental wellbeing,’ says Bill*.
Feeling a lot healthier and happier is how fellow client gardener Robert sums up his time on the Life Changers programme.
Robert had a stroke in 2020 and doing gardening activities has built up his stamina, improved his sleep and makes him feel better in himself.
He has enjoyed learning about how to grow vegetables and the knowledge he has acquired will now be used in his garden at home.
This has been our first 12-week Life Changers programme and we’re very pleased with how it has gone and the positive feedback from those who’ve attendedSarah Bowers, Thrive Birmingham
Support worker Peta, who works for the brain injury charity Headway and comes along to sessions, is delighted to see clients enjoying Life Changers: ‘I’ve noticed a large improvement in various skills and improved confidence in gardening as well as socially.’
Thrive Horticultural Therapist Sharon Waldon paid tribute to the determination of the client gardeners who attended Life Changers.
‘Volunteers, clients and myself have got so much from this programme, on so many levels,’ said Sharon. ‘The Life Changers programme has been rewarding, humbling and affirms just how beneficial STH can be.’
Sarah Bowers, Thrive Birmingham’s Regional Centre Manager, said: ‘This has been our first 12-week Life Changers programme and we’re very pleased with how it has gone and the positive feedback from those who’ve attended.
‘It’s been heartening to hear how it has helped people on so many levels, particularly during the pandemic when life has been even more challenging.’
It is hoped a new Life Changers programme will start at Thrive Birmingham in the spring. To find out more, email Birmingham@thrive.org.uk
* Some names changed to protect identity