King’s Heath Park garden sessions thriving

Gardening helps Birmingham disabled residents stay healthy in lockdown.

Children and adults in Birmingham with disabilities are being helped to use gardening and nature to stay healthy during lockdown through a new initiative by city-based charity Thrive.

Normally children with Special Educational Needs and Disability from two local schools and adults with learning disabilities, autism and other long-term health conditions take part in horticultural therapy sessions at Thrive’s gardens in King’s Heath Park.

With the temporary closure of the gardening-for-health charity’s centre due to the latest lockdown, Thrive is now delivering sessions digitally to clients at home.

Each week, they are sent instructional videos and step-by-step guides explaining what to do by Thrive horticultural therapists. Activities have included bulb planting, bean and sweet pea sowing, sensory walks, as well as quizzes and other indoor tasks suitable for wintry days.

Follow-up meetings are held online to see how people are doing and to provide opportunities for clients to catch-up socially.

“It’s proving an effective way to help client gardeners experience the mental and physical health benefits of gardening while at home,” said Kathryn Rossiter, Thrive’s CEO.

“We hope it will prevent people from feeling isolated and cut-off by providing a digital connection to Thrive’s therapeutic horticulture programmes while they can’t attend them in-person. The feedback so far has been very positive, and we’re delighted to see that so many client gardeners are benefiting from it.

“We are grateful for the support of the National Lottery whose funding in Autumn 2020 for a pilot for clients unable to return to Thrive after the first lockdown has enabled us to scale-up and now offer this to many more clients during the current lockdown.”