Like everyone, we were stopped in our tracks this year by the pandemic. Through the disturbing, uncharted-territory of lockdown, the thing that made us feel grounded, purposeful, comforted, was going to the gardens, sowing, planting, tending the plants that we knew would bloom in better days, and which we hoped to eventually share with our loyal, supportive, lovely subscribers. It felt very strange to be there alone instead of with our clients, most of whom were clinically vulnerable, and volunteers. We did a lot of thinking.
We realised we need to do things differently in the future. Many pieces of the precarious jigsaw that we put together to create and sustain a social enterprise, with a mix of grants and earned income, have been pushed off the table. It is our greatest regret that under these circumstances we can no longer sustain community Garden Clubs to assist people with dementia to actively garden. But we are even more determined that the lovely therapeutic gardens we have created in Worthing continue to be breathing spaces for people with dementia, and for anyone who needs their solace and restorative power.
So, in July we invited small numbers of volunteers back to help us tend our gardens and tiny flower farm, following a Covid-safe protocol and respecting Government guidelines. We had a tremendous boost from the Rampion Fund at Sussex Community Foundation and were awarded a grant to offer flower-farm work experiences to students with either learning difficulties/autism or Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young People, as well as a therapeutic and creative programme for women in recovery from trauma, and opportunities for anyone to learn about the amazing diversity, beauty and sustainability of seasonal cut-flowers and Sussex wildflowers. Whenever possible we will try to offer activities in the real, wondrous, natural world but we have also updated our website with all our plans for 2020/21 and we've started a You Tube channel to share what we do and offer programmes remotely. Our dementia-friendly gardens are open for people to enjoy and we are delighted that other therapeutic organisations are using them to work with clients in a nature-based way. We don't know what's ahead, but we know that we all need to be connected to nature to get through this.
Introduction to Breathing Spaces and tour of our flower-growing space at Maybridge Keystone Centre and wildflower site in Sompting. https://youtu.be/K6VHikgcjEA
Harvesting, conditioning and packaging our flowers https://youtu.be/QktfqSB5UWI