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Br Freddie Watson-Stubbs

Nestled in the peaceful Oxfordshire countryside, sits Bridewell Organic Gardens, a mental health recovery service that provides STH in a working garden to adults living within the county.

Their goal is to help people lead more active lives in the community, including returning to work or taking up volunteering opportunities.

As part of TEC’s development of content and resources I am lucky enough to visit other projects to see how STH is delivered across a range of settings, that support a whole host of different client groups.

Bridewell’s gardeners (Clients/Service Users) are often referred to the recovery service by other organisations within the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, and the service provides a range of opportunities to the gardeners to support their recovery and goals within volunteering or paid employment.

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Being welcomed into the garden by Ruth Madder (Director of the Service) and given the opportunity to wander as I so wished for an hour, seeing their vineyard, allotments, chickens and multitudes of beautiful flower beds, I was struck by the calmness the space offered, the gentle hum of gardeners chatting and working alongside each other, it felt like I was a world away from any troubles I may have.

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With the opportunity to share my lunch break with the gardeners and join the traditional walk around the vineyard afterwards, I was fortunate to be able to chat to gardeners and staff alike, giving me an insight into the valuable work that Bridewell do.

I was told by a gardener that their time at Bridewell had given them the confidence to achieve things they never thought possible, it has given them a space where they feel included, welcomed, and valued as a person.

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Bridewell, like many STH services, offers those who attend an opportunity in a natural space to engage in meaningful activities whilst interacting with others who are on a similar journey to them, each person is an individual but being in that shared environment offers a comfort that many at Bridewell felt invaluable.

* Look out for footage of Bridewell Organic Gardens in forthcoming training courses

The benefits of gardening for mental health

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