About Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH)
STH provides an abundance of opportunities and activities to improve physical and emotional wellbeing. This may include promoting fitness and building physical strength, increasing self-esteem, reducing stress and the effects of mental ill health, providing hope for the future, and fostering a sense of community to name a few. Additionally, the STH garden is an ideal environment for learning and applying vocational skills which can be transferred to employment, volunteering etc. Its effects can be broad ranging and longstanding.
The overall purpose is to promote good health and facilitate a journey to recovery and resilience for life outside the STH garden. The sessions may include horticultural activities, botanical crafts, talking and supporting each other as well as other wellbeing related pursuits.
Evidence of the benefits of Growing Forward and STH
The Growing Forward pilot scheme, delivered in collaboration with Summerwood Community Garden and Windmill Community Gardens, resulted in 75% of clients becoming volunteers. Some volunteers are key members in helping to build our service further, including development of a volunteer steering group and buddying scheme. A full report of our pilot project is available on request.
Our practitioners are now working with Tuntum Housing Association and developing contracts to deliver the model in more settings whilst we seek funding of our own.
We are also working closely with Trust Links, an established charity who have been delivering their therapeutic community garden project, ‘Growing Together’ for 21 years. In 2020 Trust Links published an extensive evaluation report which clearly shows the benefits of STH for its members.