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Meditation and healthy living meet in learning disability service’s new garden

26 July 2018

A Chelmsford supported housing scheme for people with learning disabilities has seen its garden blossom as it gears up for a national competition.

Resident Joseph Sullivan with staff members Summer Mitchell and Michelle Gilbey-Mills in the Zen garden

Sanctuary Supported Living’s (SSL) Nickleby Road has been crafting its outdoor space into two distinct themes as part of an entry in the care and support organisation’s Ready, Steady, Grow competition.

The competition sees services across the country compete to produce community or individual gardens, with a top prize of a £500 gift voucher to spend on home, garden or DIY supplies.

Nickleby Road residents have been hard at work creating a dual-themed entry. One area – an “English garden” themed space, complete with sunflowers – features fresh fruit and veg, such as tomatoes, onions, spring onions and carrots to be used in their own meals. The space will also provide a boon to wildlife, featuring a bird box and a bee box, providing habitats for both.

In a separate area, the service has been preparing a Zen garden for people to relax in, complete with little and large statues of Buddha, as well as a pergola hand-crafted by Chelmsford City councillor Mike Holloway over the course of several weeks.

The garden efforts have been helped by a large number of volunteers, including SSL staff; family and friends of the service.  

The project has also benefited from donations of plants from Morrisons, as well as staff and volunteers, and solar-powered animal illuminations from Asda.

SSL deputy local service manager Michelle Gilbey-Mills said: “Some of our residents have a dual diagnosis of learning disabilities and mental health needs, so preparing the Zen garden was a chance to give them somewhere to relax.

“Our English garden will also be a great way to encourage wildlife, and provide some home-grown veg and herbs to keep our residents eating healthily.”

Our English garden will also be a great way to encourage wildlife, and provide some home-grown veg and herbs to keep our residents eating healthily.

SSL Deputy Local Service Manager, Michelle Gilbey-Mills

Ready, Steady, Grow winners will be announced on Monday 6 August.

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