Green fingered friends

Unemployed and vulnerable people from Bath are being given the opportunity to develop horticultural skills as part of a new scheme at Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Park Nursery.

In a three-year pilot project, the Genesis Trust charity will create a new Social Enterprise at the Victoria Park Nursery.

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Greenhouses at the Victoria Park nursery.

The aim is to help people, who need extra support, to develop new horticulture skills while taking part in therapeutic activities, to reduce social barriers and promote health and wellbeing.

Councillor Bob Goodman, cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “This is a wonderful example of community organisations working in partnership with the council both for their well-being and the benefit of our environment.

“Gardening and working outside can be extremely therapeutic and we hope those taking part in therapeutic activities in our supportive parks team environment will learn valuable skills which will hopefully boost their employment prospects. It should also have the added bonus of an increase in sales of the top quality plants we grow at our nursery.”

From April, ten people supported by Genesis Trust will start training at the nursery, but it is anticipated the number will grow as the project progresses.

Horticultural therapy has a wide range of benefits including:

• Improved physical fitness and strength through working in the fresh air
• Improved mental wellbeing
• Greater opportunities to socialise and improve communication skills
• Learning how to grow your own healthy food
• A renewed sense of purpose and self esteem
• Acquiring horticultural skills which may lead to potential employment

Michelle Williams, leading the project at the Genesis Trust, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Genesis to set up a new Social Enterprise in the heart of Bath, and provide a wide range of work and training opportunities to those we support.

“We are grateful to Bath &North East Somerset Council’s parks team for its support and collaboration, and we look forward to helping many more vulnerable people move forwards in their lives in the coming years.”