Sydenham Garden enables people to improve their quality of life, social interaction and physical and mental health in a supportive community environment. Maudsley Charity funding is enabling the Lewisham based project called the Transition Pathway to become established as a new service following a successful pilot.
Sydenham Garden works with adults 35 years and up, experiencing a range of physical and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, isolation and bereavement to take part in horticultural activity. The projects are delivered through a unique wellbeing centre which includes gardens, a nature reserve and activity rooms.
Transition Pathway service
The Transition Pathway service will be offered to people after they have completed the Growing Lives Project, a one-year programme that helps people to learn about horticulture, healthy eating and increase social inclusion whilst developing transferrable skills and working towards a qualification.
The service works with people as they make the transition from being supported in the garden to undertake work, volunteering or educational placements and plan their next steps.
“I’m excited about turning the Transitions Project from a trial into a fully established service”, explains Jermaine, Head of Services at Sydenham Garden. “We’ve had the opportunity to test this work out and know that it works, and the funding we’re receiving means we will be able to offer much more personalised and tailored support for people.
“It’s so important for us to be able to create individual plans for people to continue their journey after their time at Sydenham Garden, this important work can help them achieve their longer terms goals.
“Throughout the placement we work with people to get an idea of what they might like to do in the future, to date we’ve not always been able to support everyone in a focussed and concentrated way, but Maudsley Charity is helping us to change that.
“What’s next? what people want to do, sometimes they have ideas but nothing concrete – they say, ‘I might try this or that.’, but now we have an opportunity to help people focus and support them to see their ideas and dreams achieved.”
The impact of Covid-19
Despite many challenges faced due to periods of lockdown and closure of the garden sites, over the past few months the Transitions Pathway project has found different ways of supporting groups.
The project has offered online workshops and ‘visits’ from local learning, employment and support organisations and tailored one to one advice offered by telephone for those people who were unable or uncomfortable with accessing online provision.
Thanks to support from an organisation addressing digital poverty, free data and reconditioned phones have been distributed to help people in need to stay connected. While often unable to signpost to in person provision, a number of referrals have been made to online groups.
As the project continues to establish good links with local organisations, they look forward to being able to organise ‘real life’ supported visits, to give people the confidence needed to help them take their next steps.
Independence and creative freedom
Monica had been involved in the Art and Craft and African & Caribbean projects at Sydenham Garden, and when they came to an end, the Transitions Pathway Project provided a supportive space in which she could decide on her next steps.
She decided to join a Peer Support online group in which she could continue making art, as creativity is an important way of supporting her own wellbeing. She’s continued to gain confidence with her art-making in the peer-led group, where she also supports and encourages others. She said: “I really enjoy the independence and creative freedom”.
Her journey at Sydenham Garden has seen her mental health and anxiety improve, and changed her outlook on her future as she now feels more hopeful and confident.
Find out more about Sydenham Garden: www.sydenhamgarden.org.uk
Our work in the community
We work closely with our local communities in Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. We support projects in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust's community services, as well as independent organisations.
We fund projects across the London Borough of Lewisham, an inner-London borough, home to more than 275,000 people.
Bethlem Occupational Therapy Garden puts patients in touch with nature at Bethlem Royal Hospital.