Natural path to health in community garden
TWIGS Community Gardens, have thanked First Great Western after spending some of the £740 the company recently raised on their behalf
A COMMUNITY garden site has grown into a real success story as it provides a sanctuary to those with mental health issues.
TWIGS, Therapeutic Work in Gardening Swindon, is one of the hidden treasures in the town and provides support for people experiencing mental health problems by offering creative activities in gardening, crafts and woodcrafts.
Started in 1997 by Anne Billingham, the garden was set up as a project to see how patients suffering with mental health issues could benefit from gardening.
In 2003 it became part of the Richmond Fellowship, a national mental health charity, and the project has grown over the years with it now helping nearly 90 clients.
The gardens are hidden within the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate alongside the Manor Garden Centre and is maintained by volunteers and clients.
There are nine different gardens on the site which include The Path of Life, Potager, Cottage garden, Faith garden, Physic, Japanese and Wildlife friendly gardens.
As well as the gardening the clients also produce a range of artwork and sculptures which are put on display and sold to bring in money for the charity.
Manager Alan Holland was previously a teacher specialising in helping troubled young people and has been at TWIGS for 14 years.
He said: “From the project you see an overwhelming improvement in the mental health of the people who come to us, they show more confidence and self assurance.
“I think gardening has such an impact because it is very easy to lose yourself in what you are doing.
“A lot of the clients suffer from anxiety and depression, so for them to be able to put their mind to something it stops them worrying about either the past or the future.”
When TWIGS started it received half of its funding from Swindon Council and the NHS and for nine years it has also received funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
Now the charity raises a lot of its money through the Friends of TWIGS, small charitable donations and sales of craftwork that is created by the clients.
Mr Holland said: “Like any charity organisation at the moment we are always on the lookout for new funding but we are also very well supported by all of the volunteers and the Friends of TWIGS.
“It is always very rewarding to hear positive feedback from people who have used the services and we are very fortunate to have a good reputation and we are hopeful that will continue.”
To find out more about TWIGS call 01793 523294 or visit www.friendsoftwigs.org.uk.
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