Royal Horticultural Society

Healing gardens for hospitals

Gardens and green spaces are good for our physical, social and mental health. The UK’s leading gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is bringing the benefits of green spaces to healthcare sites across the UK, starting with a healing garden in the grounds of University Hospital Lewisham. The RHS is working with Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust, their staff and the local community, to co-create a large therapeutic garden. It will give hospital staff, patients, visitors and local people – particularly those experiencing stress, anxiety, depression and burnout – a place where they can come together, heal and grow.

Improving health and wellbeing and investing in our communities is important to us. We are proud to support the RHS with a grant of £200,000 to construct a working garden growing vegetables and herbs, run wellbeing sessions and evaluate the project.  

  • 38 community partner organisations in Lewisham are creating the Healing Garden. 
  • 1,244 people have engaged in workshops, activities and events at Lewisham Hospital as part of the programme so far.
  • Wellbeing is a key element of the project and 65% of participants who have attended workshops so far said that they did so to improve theirs.

A model for growing wellbeing

The Healing Garden at Lewisham will provide the hospital’s staff of over 7,000 and the wider community of 300,000 people with an inclusive, welcoming and neutral social hub. The wellbeing programme will support local people with a range of needs by offering horticultural training sessions, creative activities, mindfulness and mental health walks. These activities will improve people’s wellbeing, fitness and mental health.

After three years, the RHS will hand the garden over to the hospital and community partners. Local volunteers are learning how to care for the garden so that it will thrive for years to come. The Healing Garden at Lewisham is a pilot and the RHS will use the experience to develop healing gardens at healthcare sites across the UK.

The Healing Gardens Programme is an exciting new departure for the RHS – a chance to create a series of community garden hubs that will provide significant opportunities to improve the wellbeing of NHS staff and local people and improve society and the environment for the better.”  

Claire Custance, RHS Community Outreach Manager, South & East

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