The specialist services provided by Lindengate are known as Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) and is a successful method to promote health and wellbeing, facilitate social inclusion and offer participants opportunities that can help them gain in self-confidence and self-esteem. By getting people out of their homes and mixing with others in an outdoor, fresh-air environment it is a catalyst to break down their social isolation and encourages the recovery process.
STH is recognized to be beneficial for a wide range of mental health needs including anxiety, depression, loneliness as well as for people with autism (ASD), dementia and head injury. In ‘A Review of Nature Based Interventions for Mental Health Care’, published in February 2016 by Natural England (the UK Government’s adviser for the use and protection of the natural environment) it concludes that STH helps to promote:
- increased mental wellbeing;
- reduction in depression, anxiety and stress symptoms;
- improvement in dementia-related symptoms; improved self-esteem, confidence and mood;
- increased attentional capacity and cognition;
- improved happiness, quality of life and a sense of peace;
- increased social contact, inclusion and a sense of belonging;
- and an increase in work skills, meaningful activity and personal achievement.
The beneficiaries of Lindengate’s structured process are referred to as Gardeners within the charity. Gardeners, are either referred to Lindengate by a healthcare professional or can self-refer. Upon arrival and following assessment by a member of Lindengate’s STH team, Gardeners join a session typically lasting around 3 hours and in a group size that is appropriate to their individual needs. Sessions are carefully planned and executed to give the chance to learn new skills and work alongside others on an equal footing. Sessions may take place in the garden, ranging from activities like potting, planting and developing displays, or in the arts and crafts facility, involving painting, sculpting or mosaic work.