Home grown therapy returns to Carleton Clinic

A garden that is used as therapy for mental health patients has been given a new lease of life thanks to new volunteers.

The garden at Carleton Clinic had become overgrown but now service users and volunteers have dug out the weeds, planted seeds and are growing their own flowers and vegetables again.

Their produce is even making money – a recent open day for staff and service users recently raised more than £60 with around 40 people visiting the garden.

The two new volunteers are Jane Orgee and Sally Brading, who work for the Carlisle charity ‘Sustainable Carlisle’.

Jane explained:

“The garden space has been here for a number of years but it had become overgrown at the end of last year because there were no volunteers to look after it.  Sally and I got involved in October last year, and now the garden is looking great. The seeds that service users have planted in the greenhouse have taken, as well as cuttings and plants are getting stronger every day.  We hope to be harvesting the fruits of our labours soon – which is always exciting!”

“The garden sessions enable us to undertake purposeful activities with service users, and it gets people off the ward.  The sessions are also social events - we always have tea and a chat during the sessions. The garden is accessible for everyone - the doors are wide enough for wheelchairs – even the greenhouse doors. Plus we have raised beds high enough for people who find it difficult to bend. This garden really has been designed to accommodate all abilities.”


Faye Atkinson is an occupational therapist based at Carleton Clinic she explained:

“This is lovely open space that people can come to from the wards, it’s about improving social skills as well as learning new skills and supporting peoples interests while they are here. It definitely helps with recovery.”

Hannah Lurz also an occupational therapist added:

“It’s also about educating people and supporting people’s needs. One service user has already said he wants his own allotment so we can help him learn about things he will grow while he is here and equip him with news skills and confidence.”

Warren Thompson is the activities coordinator at Carleton Clinic he said:

“I am the activities coordinator at Hadrian Unit and usually one of the activities is going all the way onto town to buy the produce for the cooking afternoon, but this garden is great because now we can bring service users here and pick our own home grown produce – home grown is always nicer!

“It’s not just about gardening either we make bird boxes and bird feeders as well; there’s lot of visual colour, smells and sounds and you could just sit here and read a book; all of these things contribute to lifting someone’s mood.”

Jane also explained about the herb garden and how it can be used to help people who might be low in mood or suffering from memory impairment.

“We have a reminiscent bed with herbs growing in it.  It’s useful for people who may not want to do gardening, who are feeling a bit low or perhaps a little confused.  I can pick a herb and ask them to close their eyes and tell me what it reminds them of.  Herbal aromas can bring back memories and can act as a platform for conversation   it’s good to see how such a small thing like this can make a positive difference.. We can also talk about what herbs go into which dishes, what people like to eat, what they like to cook, that sort of thing too.

There are bees and ladybirds, sparrows, robins and house martins - a whole range of wildlife in the garden.  It is also a place of peace and quiet. The garden can be a positive place for people to spend time in, particularly when they may be in a difficult place.”


The photos below shows the volunteers and staff who use and look after the garden.

 Left to right: Jane Orgee, Sally Brading, Hannah Lurz, Faye Atkinson