Twigs – Continuing To Grow Through Lockdown
If you have ever visited TWIGS Community Gardens on the Cheney Manor Estate in Swindon, you will have experienced the inspiration, peace and tranquillity that has benefitted thousands of people over the past 21 years.
TWIGS offers opportunities for people experiencing mental health issues, to regain confidence and self- esteem through learning new skills and participating in gardening and other therapeutic activities – and they are not giving up now!!!
Social distancing requirements prevent the 60 plus, current service users, from attending TWIGS to participate in a wide variety of gardening and craft activities. A skeleton staff team have been doing what they can to maintain the gardens and the contents of the polytunnels, caring for and feeding the chickens (and collecting the eggs!) and maintaining the fish pond and its residents.
“We had been sharing our thoughts on how we could maintain contact with, and support the people currently registered with the project. Supportive telephone calls were a starting point”, said Alan Holland who has been Manager of TWIGS for the past 21 years. “Then we thought of all the plants our service users and volunteers had been growing and nurturing in the polytunnels, to be used both at TWIGS gardens and to sell to the hundreds of visitors who attend our open days and special events, and the idea of putting together gardening packs emerged”.
Having contacted all the service users/people currently registered with the project, the staff and volunteers at TWIGS put together over 40 gardening packs containing plants, seeds , compost , pots , sweet peas and willow to climb them up. These kits have then been delivered to the homes of all the people expressing interest in the idea.
“Everyone we have delivered to has really appreciated their packs which we hope will continue to give pleasure and satisfaction over the coming weeks/months and help maintain a supportive link with the project” continued Alan.
“Our concern for people with mental health issues is at the forefront of all our work and, together with our colleagues at The Olive Tree Café and the Pinecones Café – all part of the same, local charity , The Recovery Tree Charity , and working towards the same end – we are determined to ensure that we do whatever we can under the present circumstances, and that our services will continue to be available, whenever we are free to offer them once again. We look forward hopefully to the day we can all garden together again in the beautiful gardens on Cheney Manor”.
For further information on TWIGS (Therapeutic Work In Gardening Swindon) and The Olive Tree Café (both projects now part of The Recovery Tree Charity – No. 1149848) check the websites : twigscommunitygardens.org.uk and theolivetreecafe.org.uk