The Therapeutic Power of Gardens Assists Salvation Army Residents

Written by: Posted on: 26 September 2019

There is little that fresh air, trees, flowers, and twittering birds can’t fix, and it is with this in mind that The Salvation Army’s Lifehouse in Stoke-on-Trent has redeveloped its garden space to make it a more peaceful and tranquil setting. The therapeutic garden at the Vale Street Lifehouse will particularly benefit residents experiencing homelessness and addiction, but it will also help relax staff, volunteers, and day visitors, including people with dementia and their carers.

The benefits of gardens are not anecdotal; several research studies have revealed the innate link between mental and physical health and nature. Regular access to nature, even small gardens, can significantly improve the overall well-being of people suffering from a variety of conditions.

Of particular interest are the benefits not only to dementia patients, but also their carers. You can read more about the phenomenon in this article on Nursing Times.

You can’t buy love but you can buy tranquillity

Developing a garden is not cheap, but thanks to the generosity of local band the Penny Dreadfuls, sufficient funds were raised to complete the revamp.

The Penny Dreadfuls donated profits totalling more than £1300 from sales of their charity Christmas CD to the Lifehouse.
In addition to designing a peaceful and relaxing space, the garden has a chicken coup to help teach residents responsibility.

Commenting on the garden, Sue Price, The Salvation Army’s activities programme coordinator, said, “Our residents have been really excited about showing this garden to everyone. It’s their garden, they’ve helped develop it and they keep it tidy and ship-shape.”

She adds, “The garden provides an area of calmness and residents can find a quiet spot to relax and contemplate or talk to their support worker. Caring for animals, such as the hens, also provides a welcome focus for some residents who need structure and purpose to their day.”

The Salvation Army puts out the Welcome mat

The garden is just the cherry on the top when it comes to the variety of services the Lifehouse provides residents. Among the most important of these are life skills courses and training courses for various trades.

David Maxfield, manager of The Salvation Army’s Lifehouse, said, “We want to encourage more partnership with the local community and would love to welcome more volunteers. Our Lifehouse doesn’t just offer accommodation for people experiencing homelessness – we offer training and courses to equip our residents with skills and confidence so they can go on to lead independent and fulfilling lives as members of their local community.”

If you have any skill you’d like to pass on, whether it’s English, maths, cooking, music, or gardening, you are most welcome to volunteer your services at the Lifehouse.

You can also donate your time by driving residents to job interviews or doctor’s appointments. As the church and charity works hard to maintain high standards, even among its volunteers, you will also have to provide references and, depending on the role, may need to have a DBS check.

The Salvation Army is currently on a drive to raise funds to support their programmes against homelessness, isolation, and modern slavery. You can donate online or via appointed collectors.

Note: collectors carry a permit and collection envelopes and tins bear The Salvation Army brand.