Partnership working brings wildlife garden to MS Therapy Centre

Photo of Jack Lopresti MP (centre) officially opening a wildlife therapy garden

A wildlife therapy garden overflowing with wildflowers and buzzing with bees and butterflies has been officially opened at the West of England MS Therapy Centre in Bradley Stoke following a six-month partnership between the Centre and Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT), with support and funding from Rolls-Royce, Tesco Bags of Help, Daikin Air Conditioning UK, The Mall Fountain Fund, The Douglas Arter Foundation and Wessex Watermark.

AWT worked with a team of Rolls-Royce employees, service users and staff from the MS Therapy Centre, Wessex Water and other corporate groups, local school children and members of the community, to transform neglected, bare ground next to the therapy centre’s car park. After many months of work, the site is now a flourishing urban wildlife and therapy garden set to bring enjoyment, improve wellbeing and provide a place for wildlife.

The garden features wildflower meadow areas with wildflowers like betony and ox-eye daisy, grown by Avon Wildlife Trust’s wildflower nursery at Feed Bristol. It also incorporates gently curving paths, a lawn and tranquil seating areas and a beautiful wooden archway for climbing plants, built from larch timber from AWT’s Folly Farm nature reserve. MS Therapy Centre members and staff worked with AWT and the Rolls-Royce team to design the wildlife therapy garden, focusing on creating the right habitat for wildlife like pollinating insects, bats and birds, as well as an inspiring natural space for members, their carers and staff to spend time.
Members have already enjoyed using the space to take part in therapeutic activities, including exercise classes and relaxation and insects, birds and other wildlife are finding food and shelter.

Doro Pasantes, West of England MS Therapy Centre manager, said:

“Many of our Centre members have limited access to outside green space or gardens – they are restricted due to issues of mobility and accessibility, or simply due to the fear of falling or becoming fatigued and being unable to get assistance. This amazing therapy wildlife garden has provided the opportunity to leave the busy humdrum of the Centre’s indoor social area, to sit and reflect in peaceful surroundings, take in the sunshine – natural vitamin D which is so important, have a treatment or therapy surrounded by the smell of wildflowers and the sounds of nature.”

“Carers who want to take half-an-hour to relax whilst their loved ones are having oxygen treatment or physiotherapy at the Centre can also have complementary treatments in the garden. We are so proud of what has been achieved and we would not have been able to do it alone.”

Julie Doherty, Avon Wildlife Trust ‘People and Wildlife’ programme manager, said:

“This beautiful garden demonstrates how wildlife-rich spaces can be created in the midst of an urban setting like this – bringing huge benefits to people’s wellbeing as well as to local wildlife. So much evidence clearly shows that spending time outside in nature helps all of us feel better. Now patients, staff, families and local people can notice and enjoy wildlife on their doorstep and make it part of their daily lives. Transforming this space has been a wonderful experience and a fantastic partnership effort.”

The wildlife garden is part of Avon Wildlife Trust’s work inspiring people and communities across the West of England to notice and value nature – and part of ongoing work to create nature-rich towns, cities and neighbourhoods under their My Wild City vision.

Wide view of the wildlife therapy garden.

Photos – Top: Jack Lopresti MP cuts a plant-based ‘ribbon’ to officially open the garden. Above: Guests at the official opening explore the features of the new therapy garden.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 8 & 9). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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