A NURSERY near Worcester is starting to re-open its doors to new people and is encouraging key workers to visit them to support recovery from the mental health impact of Covid-19.

The team at Link Nurseries, in Powick, is encouraging people who have been experiencing loneliness and depression as well as those working on the frontline in the pandemic to take time to reflect and look after their wellbeing at their therapy centre.

The centre, which is part of college group WCG, has received a grant from the Worcestershire Community Foundation to help the centre get running again post-lockdown.

Phil Woodhead, manager at Link Nurseries, said: “We’re planning to offer a therapeutic service for people as we begin to come out of lockdown and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

“It’s going to be a real recovery stage for key workers who have been working at full pace over the last few months."

“The frontline workers haven’t had any time to reflect. They’re not having time to think about their day-to-day lives, they are in a whirlwind.

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“People’s lives have been turned upside down and that can put a real strain on your mental health.

“Horticultural therapy can provide respite and can benefit everyone, from cleaners in hospitals to the nurses and consultants. We hope we can do some good for the community.”

The community-focused centre provides therapeutic and vocational services and activities to provide opportunities to improve people’s mental and physical health alongside plant and produce sales.

A phased re-opening began in June for commercial activities of selling flowers, shrubs and vegetables which help to finance therapeutic activities.

It re-opened to a small number of existing Well Bean Gardening Club members in August and is now working to offer facilities to new referrals, including frontline workers.

The land, which is home to Link Nurseries, is leased by the NHS and was formerly home to an NHS treatment centre – and now the nurseries is looking to give something back.

Link Nurseries is part of the social prescribing network, receives referrals and accepts self-referrals. It is available for anyone with mental or physical health issues who would like a safe and supportive environment in which to do some gardening.

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During the pandemic, volunteers at the centre have been keeping in contact with regular club members to try to maintain a routine.

The centre has re-launched its Well Bean Gardening Club, providing a tranquil space for gardeners to cultivate their own vegetables, flowers and develop new skills.

The lay-out of the site and the normal practice of giving each member their own ‘square foot garden’, means that it will be possible to re-engage with horticultural activities whilst maintaining social distancing and a full risk assessment has been carried out to make the site as safe as possible.

Mr Woodhead added: “We have been regularly calling our existing clients to keep some form of routine for those that would usually be coming in on certain days.

“My passion is therapeutic horticulture and making sure our clients are safe, and unfortunately that means we won’t be able to re-open to all of them immediately as they are in the vulnerable category.

“But we are gradually welcoming more regular clients back and would like to invite key workers who feel they could benefit from horticultural therapy to also get in touch.”

To find out more about Link Nurseries visit www.wcg.ac.uk/linknurseries. To enquire about the service contact the nurseries on 01905 831 881 or by email at linknurseries@wcg.ac.uk.