Zurich team help paients

Mel Barnard, Rob Howarth, Suzanne Baxter  of MIND, Allison Hall and Kevin Lenton

Mel Barnard, Rob Howarth, Suzanne Baxter of MIND, Allison Hall and Kevin Lenton

First published in News by

‘HEALTHY body, healthy mind’ was taken to the next level by office workers who devoted two days rescuing a weed-ridden garden to allow recovering mental health patients in Swindon to feel stronger in their minds and bodies.

About 20 members of Zurich’s risk and capital management team were hurled out of their comfort zones on Wednesday and Thursday when they volunteered to tackle the MIND respite and wellbeing home’s overgrown garden patch in Old Town.

Armed with seeds, compost, tools and boundless determination they tamed the lawn, built vegetable beds and repainted the tired sheds all in under two days after spending three months raising £1,000 towards the project.

Now complete, the garden will be used by charity staff to promote healthy eating and teach guests how to cook with fresh produce; and give people recovering after time on the wards an opportunity to gradually rebuild their confidence and join in planting.

“This garden will give us the opportunity to work with our guests on growing vegetables and fruit and allow them to be in contact with nature and go outside,” said Suzanne Baxter, lead worker at MIND’s respite and wellbeing house on Bath Road.

“One of the schemes we run is a healthy cooking scheme. A lot of people with mental health problems have difficulties with motivation. So it’s about encouraging them and showing them ways to eat healthily and make them feel better about themselves.

“The garden will help with that. They will be able to garden and see what they have achieved when the vegetables grow.”

The MIND respite and wellbeing house welcomes people referred by their GP or those leaving the care of the mental health services as well as carers in need of a pause from responsibilities.

Project leader, Rob Howarth, who is currently following Zurich’s graduate scheme, praised his team for accomplishing such a transformation in just a few hours and with limited landscaping experience.

“We’ve made quite a noticeable difference,” said the 23-year-old. “The garden was completely overgrown when we arrived. We had to clear the weeds and the bracken on the walls and you couldn’t even get to the sheds. It is one of the most physical things I’ve done. It was a lot of work, but the team were committed.”

His colleague Mel Barnard, 35, added: “It is about helping the charity provide a space for its healthy eating programme. It has made it more manageable for them to take it forward and it will give the residents a chance to go out. It’s nice to give something back.”

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