They're signs of how much things have changed for this young man from Kent.
Aiden is profoundly deaf and partially sighted, and lives at home with his dad and stepmum Suzy.
Despite enjoying gardening, when he started as a client gardener at Thrive London two years ago, he was shy, withdrawn and very dependent on Suzy for support.
Coming to Thrive has given us something to look forward to, it’s always an enjoyable daySuzy, Aiden's stepmum
Working with our horticultural therapy team in Thrive’s Battersea Park gardens has resulted in not only physical improvements, such as better hand-eye coordination, but also thinking and decision-making skills.
Being alongside other client gardeners has also brought Aiden out of himself and given him an injection of confidence.
Aiden has made great progress at ThriveLu Curtis, Thrive London Horticultural Therapist
`He is now happy to work on a task with another gardener and is content to work away from Suzy with another volunteer,’ says Horticultural Therapist Lu Curtis. `Aiden has made great progress at Thrive.’
Aiden takes part in our general sessions which are open to adults with a wide range of disabilities and life-changing illnesses. Clients work in small teams with horticultural therapists and volunteers on a wide range of gardening jobs, from pricking out seedlings, to turning the compost heap.
Plans and goals
When potential new client gardeners express an interest in coming to Thrive, they have an informal meeting with staff to learn about what we do, and maybe take part in a taster session.
On joining general sessions, our horticultural therapists meet with each client, their families or carers or support staff to devise plans to achieve mutually agreed goals, whether they are physical, psychological or social.
General sessions take place at Thrive’s regional centres in London, Birmingham and Berkshire and currently there are places available at each.
Sarah Bowers, Thrive Birmingham Regional Centre Manager, said, `We run half and full day general sessions on Mondays and Thursdays.
`As well as their achievements in the gardens, our clients love the interaction that comes from working in a small team, as well as having tea and lunch breaks together. For some people facing isolation, this answers a real need for meaningful social engagement and leads to enduring friendships.
`We know that working in a garden is good for us but hearing the chat and laughter between clients is a real joy.’
Physical and mental benefits
At Thrive Reading, general sessions currently attract people from Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire from Monday to Friday.
Paul Scott, Thrive Reading’s Regional Centre Manager, said, `The physical benefits of our programmes are wide reaching, providing exercise, helping to build muscle strength and stamina through to supporting good balance and co-ordination, to name just a few.
‘Many of our client gardeners also appreciate how much better they feel as a result of taking part in our social and therapeutic horticulture programmes, with more than 90 per cent of them saying how satisfied they are.’
Interested in our general sessions? Our regional centres would love to hear from you:
For Thrive London, call 020 7720 2212 or email: battersea@thrive,org.uk
For Thrive Birmingham, call 0121 293 4531 or email: email@example.com
For Thrive Reading, call 0118 988 4844 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org