Still being there to support our client gardeners whilst ensuring their safety throughout the coronavirus pandemic was in the forefront of our minds. Our client gardeners didn’t stop needing us, and we couldn’t stop supporting them just because of centre closures.
A successful bid from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, has helped us to set up a test programme to reach client gardeners at home, and so, Client Gardening Club was born; an online resource used to connect Thrive's horticultural therapists and clients, so they can continue sessions remotely and still benefit from social and therapeutic horticulture, whilst remaining safely at home.
Client Gardening Club is a fortnightly email to clients, which includes a video activity with written step-by-step guides, as well as extra themed activities, a quiz or fun facts page, additional videos/photos of the gardens, and any other news that has come in from the other centres or from clients. An upbeat poem included in each edition has also proven popular!
Client Gardening Club is so important to me because it allows me to keep in contact with my friends, and all the kind people who work and volunteer there.Jemma, client gardener
For many of our client gardeners, Thrive is an important community where they feel safe, empowered, and valued. Thrive is also where many friendships have bloomed, providing that all important social aspect of social and therapeutic horticulture, and where they can enjoy gardening and nature to improve mental and physical wellbeing.
To be unable to come to Thrive has been difficult for many client gardeners, and Client Gardening Club is our way of providing the support needed to get involved at home with simple, fun activities based on horticulture, health and wellbeing, and the natural environment, and most importantly, it keeps client gardeners in contact with the wider Thrive community, so they do not feel isolated or disconnected.
Helen talks about why she thinks Client Gardening Club is so important. “As the months have gone on, we are finding that more and more clients are having a go at the activities, and some are also sending in wonderful photos. It has been lovely to see so many of them getting involved and using Client Gardening Club to help them get through this time in a fun and interactive way.
The overriding question from clients is “when will Thrive be open again?”, everyone is missing our wonderful gardens, and the normal and familiar routine this brings to their lives. Responses confirm that Client Gardening Club gives the feeling of still being a part of the Thrive community and not feeling forgotten.”
Amongst all the activities in Client Gardening Club, we make sure to provide a positive outlook in an uncertain world and encourage clients to be proactive and forward thinking to better, brighter times ahead, when we can all get back out in the gardens together again at Thrive.
Client Gardening Club has been a lifeline to those who needed support throughout the pandemic, and we are so thrilled that it has been, and continues to be successful in achieving positivity through what is a strange, scary, and uncertain time.
It is nice to know that you are still there, and I can come back soon.Jemma, client gardener
We are all missing the Thrive gardens and hope to be back in them soon. What Helen misses the most is, “working alongside individuals in the garden and witnessing all the benefits that STH brings to them. Physically getting our hands dirty together whilst caring for the gardens and each other.”
We are excited for the clients to return to Thrive when the time is right, but to ensure everyone's safety, and to follow social distancing guidelines, we have had to adapt to a 'new normal’ which has been no easy feat. However, it has been wonderful to hear how much of a support we still are, and have been through our period of closure, and how much our client gardeners miss life at Thrive during this time.