An unused courtyard at Dorset County Hospital has been brought back to life thanks to the hard work of young volunteers at the Prince’s Trust.
The project is supported by the Pears #iwill Fund, which helps to achieve the #iwill campaign goal to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year olds as possible by 2020.
The courtyard was originally envisaged as a place for patients and staff to enjoy some fresh air in efforts to increase mental health and wellbeing. However, the courtyard had become overgrown with weeds and needed a bit of TLC.
Following an appeal from the hospital’s Occupational Therapists in the Stroke Unit, a call for volunteers was made to the Prince’s Trust, based at Weymouth College.
Over a two-week period the volunteers from the Prince’s Trust set to work on clearing the courtyard of weeds and tidying the overall look and feel of it. The team also managed to raise £400 from a sponsored Kayakathon, which they used to buy an array of flowers, equipment and paint in order to bring the courtyard back to life.
With the support of Arts in Hospital and a Volunteer Art Therapist, the Prince’s Trust designed and painted a table as well as flower pots and chairs to add that extra bit of colour to the courtyard.
After two weeks of hard work, the garden was officially reopened with a small reception with the Volunteer Coordinators, Occupational Therapists, Arts in Hospital and patients, where the volunteers from the Prince’s Trust had the opportunity to talk about and show off their achievements.
Since the project was completed the garden has been enjoyed by everyone in the hospital but especially the patients, who are able to come out and enjoy a change of scenery from the ward.
Nick Harper, Prince’s Trust Team Leader from Weymouth College said: “The project undertaken by the young people on The Prince’s Trust focused on changing a physical space within their community and the hospital offered a diverse area, with multiple uses for a vulnerable group.
“The project allowed the youngsters to develop an increased appreciation of the challenges faced by people in hospital and it was an excellent opportunity for them to interact between both members of staff and the patients.
“What’s more, the group has forged a solid partnership with both teams and individuals within Dorset County Hospital such as the Macmillan Cancer Team who have visited Weymouth College since the project to talk to our students about various career roles in nursing.”
Hannah Robinson, Volunteer Coordinator at Dorset County Hospital added: “The young volunteers who carried out the project were just fantastic throughout. They were professional and committed to finishing the task and it was an absolute pleasure to work with them on this and watch as their vision for the garden became a reality.”
Following completion of the volunteers’ Prince’s Trust course, a graduation ceremony was carried out where the young people spoke about their experience and reflected on the experience they had in the hospital.
One member of the project team spoke about having a fear of hospitals having been a patient in the past but that during the gardening project she had been given an opportunity to spend some time volunteering in one of the day rooms.
She said: “The hospital staff were so supportive so I am not afraid anymore. They let me help on the Trauma Ward day room for a few hours, which was awesome.”
Other project team members reflected saying they received “a lot of positive feedback from the hospital staff and people passing by”, which proved their hard work was worth it.
Another member of the team explained how it had helped him with his own mental health. He said: “I have always seen my mental health as a burden but now I want to help people in the community using my own experience and the positive impact it has had on me.”
The project has made such a positive contribution to the hospital and is a fantastic example of Youth Social Action and the big difference it can make.
Find out more about the Pears #iwill Fund here.