Lisa’s legacy gives hope to mental health inpatients

A Sensory Garden designed to help the rehabilitation of people with acute mental health issues has been opened at Carleton Clinic.

It has been funded with money raised through events organised by Jane Anderson in memory of her late daughter Lisa.

Jane who lives just outside Carlisle, said: “Lisa suffered from mental health issues for many years until her death 2001. Jane said, “Since then I have made it my mission to raise awareness of mental health issues and try to give those who suffer and their carers as much help and support as I am able”.

“It has been suggested that gardening can really help improve mental wellbeing and when I discovered there was a space at Carleton clinic to develop a garden that could be developed for such a purpose, I jumped at the opportunity to help. I think it is wonderful to think that all these years after her death Lisa is still helping people through this legacy.” 

The garden has been designed by Coralin Pearson of Green Designs.    As a member of a 4 woman team from University of Cumbria, Newton Rigg, Coralin gained a Silver Award at Chelsea Flower Show 2009 for their Courtyard Garden entry ‘Pottering in North Cumbria’.  

The landscaping and groundworks was done by Westwood Landscapes and Universal Ground Solutions who have really brought Coralin’s plans to life. A granite bench, which was donated by Lakeland Hot Tubs provides a tranquil space for visitors to the garden to sit down and enjoy it.

“It was absolutely vital that the design of this garden was developed in conjunction with those who would be using it. We have had regular meetings with patients about what they would like in the garden and how they would like it to look.  We had to start from absolute scratch as it was all completely overgrown but we had a blank canvass to work with and we have been able to create the garden that we wanted. We have incorporated many elements including; a quiet area, a gentle activity area, raised beds as well as lots of fragrances, structures and textures to stimulate mental wellbeing.”

Jane’s favourite part of the garden is the Tree of Hope, “I wanted the garden to provide something to those who benefit from it that they could always keep. When I volunteered at  Croftlands Trust Spencer Street day centre we had a cardboard tree on which people could write their hopes and aspirations and this inspired me so in the garden there is a metal tree on which patients can write their hopes and positive thoughts on ribbons and add to the tree with magnets. When they leave the unit they can take their ribbons home with them to help them continue their recovery.”

Incorporating music was also important to Jane, “Lisa was a very talented and gifted musician. It was an important part of her life and she would have wanted us to share the love she had of music in this garden. She is reflected everywhere in this garden, she was a beautiful, kind, gentle and fun loving girl and she would have wanted her legacy to make a difference.

Andrea Greenwood, General Manager for Mental Health Services at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have worked really hard together to make sure that we have a safe place here for our patients, a place where they can spend time and a place that can be used as a functional part of their rehabilitation and treatment. Research has shown that gardening can give us all a sense of responsibility and improve self esteem. The garden is also simply a really nice place to be and can be both calming and inspiring, we are all really pleased with the results.”

Jane continues to fundraise and has her sights set on more project s to help those struggling with mental health problems.

Jane has now spent nearly 20 years fundraising for different groups and mental health causes. She was the vice chair of the Croftlands Trust which has now been absorbed into Richmond Fellowship who released the funds raised by Jane in order to develop the garden.