Tackling loneliness in a garden of goodness

Actor David Bradley was pictured in the garden of the Lifeways Therapy Centre with Carole Longden, founder of the Forest of Hearts charity which is creating a wellbeing garden at Stratford Hospital, David Bradley having agreed to become its patron. Also pictured was Emma Bond from Stratford Hopital, Forest of Hearts representatives Jenny Parker, Debbie Butterfield, Dawn McGuire and Kate Evans, together with James Pavitt, manager Lifeways, as well as Phil Eves, Beth Kid, Marcus Tombs and Tom La Vigna of BAM Construction UK who will be building the garden. Photo: Mark Williamson L14/6/19/6795

LOCAL charity, Forest of Hearts, with help from actor David Bradley – patron of the wellbeing garden – recently unveiled exciting plans at Lifeways Centre, Stratford, to create an edible garden which will comprise 25 raised beds located outside the new Cancer and Eye Treatment units at the hospital.

It’s exciting because the garden will supply fresh food to Café Lomas, the new health and wellbeing hub within the hospital. It will also provide an outdoor working space for disadvantaged people in the area to reduce isolation, loneliness and mental health issues.

The benefits of horticulture on health have long been recognised, serious illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, diabetes and depression are all caused by chronic inflammation.

The Forest of Hearts is so far working in partnership with local businesses including BAM Construction, Benchmark (Stratford), Taylor Wimpey, The Box Factory (Leamington), Bellagio (Leamington) Vale Fresco (Warwick), Orbit Group, Three Counties, adi Ltd, Yelo and Dawnus.

It’s thought the garden will be the first of its kind and may become a template for other hospitals across the UK.

In order to bring health benefits to many people in the community, the Forest of Hearts is looking for volunteers who would like to be part of a community project as well as local businesses who would like to financially support the wellbeing of people in the Stratford community.

Carole Longden, project manager of Forest of Harts said: “Great to see local businesses getting involved in this project, enhancing the local community, there’s loads of ways to get involved, get outdoors and meet new people.”

David Bradley said: “The Forest of Hearts is working hard to help people struggling with isolation issues in the local community, by getting them out into nature it’s improving both their wellbeing and confidence and creating biodiversity in the process”

“It’s wonderful to see the NHS working with charities like the Forest of Hearts and other local businesses to create a place like this where people can heal, become more confident and improve biodiversity at the same time”

“It’s great to see the Forest of Hearts, BAM and the NHS working together like this to create a place in nature for local people who need to heal and so clever to be creating biodiversity at the same time”.