When it comes to weeding out loneliness or sowing the seeds of recovery from isolation or some other cause of stress, few things are more effective than gardening.
So, Tameside Council teamed up with the Tameside Armed Services Community (TASC) and the Curzon Ashton Community Foundation to set up a horticultural therapy project for veterans.
Using funding received from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust’s Tackling Loneliness programme, a hub-and-spoke plan was established based on the Defence Gardens Scheme, which works on the basis of combining people, place and purpose.
Tameside’s hub is based at DB Nurseries, off Dukinfield Road, in Hyde. The spoke is at the TASC veterans’ allotment at Rose Hill in Denton.
Veterans can now sign up for a 10-week programme, consisting of one three-hour session a week, which is designed to help those who attend build stronger social networks and friendships and become emotionally stronger.
The project was initially piloted in the spring. No previous gardening knowledge is required, just a willingness to work together in a small team of like-minded people – something that should appeal to people with a forces background.
Cllr Ged Cooney, Tameside Council’s executive member with responsibility for the Armed Forces Covenant, said: “Gardening’s healing powers are well known. They’re a key reason it’s one of the most popular hobbies both here and abroad.
“It’s been a very trying two years with covid adding to any other pressures veterans might be feeling. If they think they would benefit from being somewhere calm, where they’ll be among people similar to themselves, and where they can safely take their foot off the gas, I’d encourage them to take part in our autumn programme.”
Referrals can only be accepted for the full 10-week programme and not for individual sessions. For more information, contact veterans’ development officer Isaac Keast by emailing email@example.com.