10 years at the heart of our garden community
Placed at the centre of the gardens community is the hospital. The community is the patients and families who take a walk during visiting times for a breather and a chance to watch the birds on the feeders. It’s the hospital staff who use the garden on their breaks, some of whom can be found with their shoes off, connecting with nature and getting some well needed grounding between long and exhausting shifts. It’s the visitors and the dog walkers who use the garden daily (and some more often). It's the local childminders who bring the children down to watch the bees and play in the dens, and the neighbours who donate their spare tools and pots when clearing out their huts. It’s the groups who come along to use it; those supporting people who may be struggling with challenges in their lives as well as those coming to learn new skills. Whether it’s through gardening or cooking, you’ll find people connecting and building relationships right here in the garden every single day.
Over the years, Cyrenians sessions in the garden have increased and now there are staff on site five days of the week, each day supporting different teams of volunteers to managing and develop the garden. You’ll usually find them by listening for the laugher as someone cracks a joke or some kind of tomfoolery is taking place. Within these volunteer teams, it is so humbling to watch the relationships between strangers blossom as they support each other to complete the gardening activity which is taking place. The support, the nurturing, the companionship and the opportunity to connect with nature encourages the volunteers to come back week after week and year after year. You ask them now why they come to the garden and few would tell you ‘to garden’, but rather to be with their friends, enjoy the company of others and feel part of warm community.
So next time you have time to visit the community hospital garden, do look around at what’s been achieved over the past 10 years on the ground. Take the time to ‘be’, to connect with the garden and with those in it. I’m guessing you’ll leave feeling warmer than you did when you arrived.