Sophie and Ellie July 2023
Sophie and Ellie, two first-year MSc Occupational Therapy (OT) students from University of Winchester, recently completed a six-month placement at our Thrive Reading Centre. Here they share some highlights of their time with us.

This is our first placement and having a role-emerging experience at the start of our course has been interesting. We have enjoyed working alongside Thrive’s client gardeners and staff, who have been exceptionally welcoming and supportive despite our limited horticulture knowledge!

Our exploration into incorporating OT into the STH programme has been enjoyable, but not without its challenges. We had to apply OT theoretical knowledge in a non-conventional setting by developing techniques such as observation skills and analysing client activities to improve our practical abilities.

We were surprised by the number of similarities between OT and STH. From what we experienced, the best way we can describe STH models is using the horticulture occupation as a therapeutic tool.


Our university project at Thrive involved creating and delivering training on person-centred active support to both volunteers and staff members. During our training sessions, we delved into the concept of person-centred active support including how to create an enabling environment and how to apply this knowledge to benefit clients at Thrive.

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One of our training sessions at Thrive

Our training sessions were well received and at times we were able to challenge preconceptions of how people think. For example, one activity we set for the group was how to demonstrate the task of potting on in a non-verbal way. It was interesting to see how people responded to this, some finding it more difficult than others.

We also developed a goal-setting template for STH practitioners. This template aims to support the creation of effective goals with clients in individual development plan (IDP) meetings whilst hopefully making the process more efficient.

We hope our work at Thrive has had a positive effect and that the projects we completed will have a lasting impact.


During our placement, we also had the opportunity to accompany our Thrive supervisor Vicki to a nearby school for children with special educational needs. There, we assisted with the Pots & Petals session where we gained a lot of valuable knowledge from being able to see STH in action working with a different group of clients i.e., primary school children in a school setting.

During our final two weeks, we worked with the local Clinical Placements team to put together a video-based training resource which highlights to staff the benefits of Allied Health Professional (AHP) student placements in charity settings. We also visited OT teams in Slough and Bracknell to gain a deeper understanding of the services that clients in the area may be referred from or have access to.

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Our final day at Thrive

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Thrive who has shared their expertise and been so patient with us. We're thrilled to see all the amazing things happening with Thrive and we're so grateful for everyone who has helped us along the way!

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