William and Kate back therapy gardens in Wales in new mental health partnership
The Prince and Princess of Wales’s foundation has announced a new collaboration to help create therapy allotments and gardens offering mental health support in south Wales.
William and Kate (pictured) visited the site where the first garden will be developed at Brynawel Rehabilitation Centre, near the town of Pontyclun, on Tuesday to mark the announcement of the social enterprise partnership.
Their charitable organisation is working with Life at No.27 – a horticultural therapy and mental health counselling provider – to scale up its gardening mission, with six gardens eventually being created across south Wales.
William and Kate were shown plans for the Brynawel garden which includes a collection of allotments where individuals can have their own space to learn and grow produce, a communal sensory and herbal garden, a mud kitchen and an interactive learning space.
Annabelle Padwick, founder of Life at No.27, said gardens were vital in offering a safe environment for those facing mental health difficulties.
“As the founder I have seen first-hand how working with therapy gardens can dramatically improve self-belief and your own mental health,” she said.
“Our unique therapy allotments and gardens are vital as they offer a safe environment for those experiencing mental ill health, to process and explore difficult experiences with trained therapists while at the same time learning new skills.”
Ms Padwick added: “Working with The Prince and Princess of Wales is so important as their support enables us to collaboratively raise awareness of the work we do, the growing vital need that we aim to meet and how much the experiences and relationships we have can shape our future.”
The Brynawel Rehabilitation Centre – a leading residential site for the treatment of alcohol and drug dependencies – will offer free and low-cost gardening therapy and mental health support sessions for its service users and their families.
Residents from the wider community, who are experiencing mental ill health, low confidence or isolation, will also eventually be given access to the garden through GP referrals.
The Royal Foundation has brought together national and local organisations to support the design and build, and provide funding, tools, plants, seeds and materials for landscaping.
It said the initiative was part of a series of projects designed to leave a “lasting impact” in the communities William and Kate visit on royal engagements.
Amanda Berry, chief executive of The Royal Foundation said: “Their Royal Highnesses are passionate about creating a lasting impact in the communities they visit, playing an instrumental role in bringing together local stakeholders to amplify the work of organisations, and ensure support reaches those who need it most.”
She added: “Their Royal Highnesses continue to prioritise our society’s mental health and spending time in nature is known to have a range of benefits, including reducing depression and anxiety.”
Kate has long hailed the importance of spending time outdoors and the green-fingered princess created a Back to Nature garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019.
William – who was given the title the Prince of Wales by his father the King shortly after Charles acceded to the throne – and Kate visited south Wales on Tuesday – the day before St David’s Day – which celebrates the patron saint of Wales.
They heard about the work the centre does to help those struggling with the effects of drug and alcohol addiction, including a programme for people with alcohol-related brain damage.
The pair also visited a leisure and fitness centre in Aberavon, meeting Welsh athletes, discus thrower Harrison Walsh and sprinter Hannah Brier and tour the headquarters of the Wales Air Ambulance charity in Llanelli.
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