Horticultural therapy for veterans

The charity Thrive has recently launched a new project, ‘Down to Earth’ in Gateshead and the West Midlands, aimed at helping ex-service personnel living with mental ill health or physical disability to  develop horticultural skills and possibly even launch a new career.

Funded by the Royal British Legion, which awarded the charity around £200,000 to develop two projects over the next three years, the project ran two taster horticultural therapy sessions in Birmingham and Gateshead over the summer for ex-service personnel.

A new passion

The project aims to help veterans who may be suffering from anxiety, mental ill health, PTSD and a range of other physical and mental disabilities.

With 38 years’ experience of using ‘social and therapeutic horticulture’ (STH) to help people, Thrive’s trainers and the ‘Down to Earth’ programme will provide former service men and women with qualifications, skills and experience which could lead to a City and Guilds qualification. Working as part of a team, veterans can improve their health and fitness, get involved with local park maintenance and could even work towards a new career.

Mental health benefits

Research by Thrive shows that gardens offer a restorative, nurturing environment, and that gardening is beneficial for those looking to restore a sense of balance to their lives. With more than 12,000 Armed Forces redundancies planned over the next three years, the Down to Earth programme is set to have a huge impact on the lives of UK veterans.