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    Basingstoke MP views plans for new mental health hospital gardens

    Basingstoke MP Maria Miller recently toured Southern Health’s specialist mental health unit, visiting the gardens of Parklands which are set for a major makeover.

    The revamp is part of a join project with military charity Help for Heroes and Sparsholt College’s horticulture team, which has won numerous Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Together, they plan to transform the tired, under-used spaces at Parklands into a special sensory garden for military patients and a second more social, active outdoor space for other patients and visitors.

    Parklands is home to a general inpatient mental health ward as well as a specialist ward for serving MoD personnel, treating around 85 people each year from the armed forces with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, bi-polar and schizophrenia.

    The NHS Trust’s chief executive, Dr Nick Broughton, explained to Miller: “There is growing evidence of the therapeutic impact that getting outside and enjoying a garden can have on someone’s mental health. This was the reason behind our staff and volunteers fundraising for the special project – and I’m delighted to confirm that we’ve now raised enough money to start work on the first of our two planned spaces, the sensory garden. This is thanks to large grants from The Armed Forces Covenant Fund, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund, as well contributions from local companies and individuals, plus plenty of staff fundraising too!”

    The plan is to create the structure of the garden in July and August, including the water feature and the decking area, before beginning planting in September, a time when Southern Health will be looking for more volunteers to support the Help for Heroes veterans already signed up to help.

    If you’re interested in being a ‘Parklands Volunteer’, email: [email protected]. You can also follow the progress of the gardens via a monthly blog here: www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/get-involved/parklands-hospital-garden-project/ and if you would like to support the project, you can donate here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brighterway-parklandgardens.

    To find out more about how Help for Heroes uses gardening as a recovery activity for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, please visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk.

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