"If you have spent a lot of your life believing you are not as good as other people, then you can be [on the same level as them] with gardening. Everyone can grow something and nurture it, and at the same time it nurtures them," says Ruth Yeo, horticultural therapist at Thrive.
We run gardening sessions for adults with learning disabilities at our own gardens and offer outreach projects in the community.
Each gardener has an individual development programme setting out their goals. Much of the work the therapists carry out with them is around building social skills, confidence and self-esteem. We encourage them to do things for themselves and quite often we find they haven't experienced being given a choice, so it can be scary for them to make decisions at first.
Gardening is special because it is so flexible. It can deliver improvement in health physically and psychologically. Physically it doesn't just make people stronger with better stamina but also works on their fine motor skills and improves mobility. Psychologically, people feel good when gardening through the process of growing. People get the chance to care and nurture when they are usually the cared for; they can see the difference they make. Further, research has even shown that touching soil releases seratonim.
And the relaxed, informal nature of gardening means you can weave in a lot of life skills to our programmes.
Thrive says "If you see your plant grow you don't want it to die and you take responsibility for it, so gardening has the ability to enable people to build or rebuild skills that they have lost or never had the opportunity to acquire."
For more information about our programmes please telephone 0118 988 5688 or email