Local MP ‘cuts the ribbon’ on new Mental Health Hospital Garden

24 September 2020

Amid the ongoing fight against coronavirus, Southern Health was able to celebrate some positive news today as its new NHS therapeutic garden at Parklands Hospital in Basingstoke was formally opened. 

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Following many months of volunteering, fundraising, partnership working and plenty of hard physical toil, the garden was finally unveiled to the patients and ward staff who are set to benefit from the new outdoor space.

Special guest and local Basingstoke MP Maria Miller cut the ribbon for the ‘makeover’ project, which has been many months in the making and will specifically help military patients.

The project - only possible as a result of generous donations from military charities, local businesses and generous individuals - started as a piece of wasteland and has been gradually transformed into a garden which is now ideal for nature based healing. 

Whilst Parklands is home to a general inpatient mental health ward, the garden has been primarily designed for the patients of its specialist MoD ward, which treats around 85 serving Ministry of Defence personnel each year. These armed forces individuals are treated for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, bi-polar and schizophrenia.

Southern Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karl Marlowe, explained: “There is growing evidence of the therapeutic impact that getting outside and enjoying a garden can have on someone’s mental health, particularly those at their lowest ebb and in need of positive inspiration from nature. This was the reason behind our staff and volunteers fundraising for the special project – and we owe a huge debt of thanks to The Armed Forces Covenant Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund, as well contributions from local individuals and companies like Primark and Travis Perkins, for their support and generosity.”

In order to design and create the garden, Southern Health joined forces with the horticulture team from Sparsholt College (Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners) and worked alongside veteran volunteers who've received support in the past from Help for Heroes. The garden has been designed as a therapeutic space with both stimulating and reflective areas, including the familiar scents of herbs and the gentle movement of ornamental grasses to provide year-round interest.

After touring the new garden, Maria Miller commented: “It’s wonderful to be at this garden today to see the ‘before and after’. I was here a few months ago when it was just a piece of wasteland and now we see such a fantastic transformation - which will be a huge benefits not only to patients but also to the staff to be able to come outside and use this beautiful space. For us in North Hampshire, our military connections are enormously important and we know how crucial it is to look after the people who have served our country – and this garden is a welcome addition to doing just this.”

For more information on the project, visit: www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/get-involved/.

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