Corporate Responsibility Day
Swapping laptops for shovels, the HSIS team spent a day away from the office supporting the Grow Your Own Project for Corporate Responsibility Day.
Divided into three teams, they weeded and seeded the flower meadow, sorted through wood and metal supplies and even painted flower baskets. The extra support was warmly welcomed by the Grow Your Own team as they begin their preparations for the Southport Flower Show.
This will be the third consecutive year they’ve entered the competition and is clear evidence of the project’s success. In addition to the Southport Flower Show, they’ll also be entering the Wyre Estuary Autumn Community Event, LCFT’s Opportunity Knocks in November and they have a further two shows over Christmas in the pipeline.
In the short space of 6 years, the Grow Your Own Project has transformed from a few flower beds to a flourishing community greenspace environment that’s home to seven large poly tunnels, 20 chickens, 2 budgies, 4 Geese, 6 ducks, 3 honey bee hives and an adopted cockerel named Ernie. Vegetables grown at the site have even been served in NHS hospitals which shows how sustainability projects of this kind can be a success and benefit the wider community.
We caught up with Liz Harrison, manager of Grow Your Own, to discuss how the project has evolved over the years and, more importantly, how it supports the service user journey to a healthy recovery.
“My experiences working on this project have been exhilarating. Watching service users rebuild their lives and develop new skills is so rewarding! There’s been lots of research into the positive impact that connecting with nature can have on mental wellbeing but I get too see the results first hand, unfolding right before my eyes. It’s beautiful!”
In addition to a connection with nature, Grow Your Own also provides service users with a direct route into paid employment, volunteering opportunities and a chance to gain qualifications they can benefit from in the outside world. Many volunteers on the project have achieved city and guilds diplomas in practical horticulture. Six years on from being established, Liz is hoping the project will continue to grow and provide more paid employment opportunities for service users in the future.
Aside from a busy schedule packed with competitions and events, the Grow Your Own team are also aiming to engage with Lancashire’s wider community and expand the product range that is grown on the site. One of their main goals for 2020 is to introduce green health prescription referrals for other units within the trust.