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Opening of EEAST’s first wellbeing garden in Longwater

Date: 16 August 2021

'Be well, Be kind, Be happy' entrance sign to Longwater Wellbeing Garden

Thanks to monies raised by Captain Sir Tom Moore, EEAST has been able to revitalise a run-down station space and create a blossoming wellbeing garden for staff and volunteers to enjoy.

As part of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Charities Together distributed grants from monies made by Captain Sir Tom Moore to NHS organisations.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) charity working group was formed from a cross-section of Trust volunteers to identify projects to make use of the EEAST charity grant. Projects would benefit health and wellbeing, in addition to thanking staff and volunteers for their outstanding effort during the pandemic.

Wall mural by artist, Knapple and garden shed at Longwater Wellbeing Garden

The wellbeing gardens project commenced with an aim to enhance outdoor space at stations across the region and to provide a dedicated area for staff and volunteers to have space to relax and enjoy.

The first of these gardens has now been completed and was opened on Friday 13th August at Longwater depot in Norwich by Neville Hounsome, Non-Executive Director and Chair of the EEAST Charitable Funds Committee.

Upon opening the garden, Neville said, “I am delighted that the Charities Committee was able to use funds to support our local team in developing this garden. The last 18 months have been extraordinarily tough for our staff and the public we serve. Having time and space to reflect is more important now than ever.“

Neville Hounsome cutting the ribbon to officially open Longwater Wellbeing Garden

A small group of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly in their spare time to completely revamp a piece of waste ground on site into a peaceful space for staff. The project has been led by Lisa Gill, Senior Paramedic, based at Longwater.

As Wellbeing Ambassador Lead for Norfolk and Waveney, Lisa promotes the benefits of green space for mental health and personal wellbeing and was passionate to provide an area which would be an immediate benefit for co-workers. Her vision was to create a garden which was relaxing and inviting, an area to encourage wildlife and offer a space to reflect and unwind. Her vision was captured by garden designer Josie, Lisa’s daughter, and brought to life by volunteers from Longwater, including her husband Bob Gill and with support from Beth Owen in Estates.

Lisa Gill and daughter Josie at the opening of Longwater Wellbeing Garden

Lisa says, “The last eighteen months have been the most demanding many of us have ever faced, and that demand does not appear to be easing with the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

“Staff wellbeing is critical to patient care and so alongside being a paramedic, I’ve always got my ‘Wellbeing Ambassador’ hat on and am looking for practical ways in which I can support my colleagues. I know how much green spaces and spending time in nature can benefit mental well-being, and for a while now I’ve been keen to bring those benefits into the workplace.

I have  been overwhelmed by the generosity of two local garden centres when they heard of the project. The plants they have donated are amazing.  We have  also upcycled donated benches and been mindful to use products from sustainable sources. I could not  have taken the design and turned it into anything as lovely without the help of a few volunteers. They know who they are, and I cannot thank them enough for giving up their time to help.

I am extremely grateful to our Charity fund, Sir Captain Tom Moore and NHS Charities Together for giving us the opportunity to turn an idea into a creative and calming space which will have an immediate impact on staff well-being. For me personally, the garden feels like a hidden oasis and once you sit down and look around you can’t help but feel more relaxed, I hope it makes other staff feel the same way.”

One of two benches in Longwater Wellbeing Garden

Plants were generously donated by Peter Beales Roses, Attleborough and Woodgate Nursery, Aylsham. The Range at Longwater in Norwich kindly donated garden equipment to support the project. Local street artist, Knapple, completed the garden by creating a graffiti art mural of wildflowers.

Quote on the bench at Longwater Wellbeing Garden

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  • Summary:

    Thanks to monies raised by Captain Sir Tom Moore, EEAST has been able to revitalise a run-down station space and create a blossoming wellbeing garden for staff and volunteers to enjoy.