Jo Brand backs Bethlem therapeutic garden campaign

Comedian and former Beckenham nurse, Jo Brand, has added her backing to a fundraising campaign which will support a therapeutic garden at Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Maudsley Charity, an NHS mental health hospital charity, are taking part in The Big Give, a campaign in which every pound donated is doubled. The campaign is backed by comedian Jo Brand, who was herself a former mental health nurse at Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Jo Brand said: “As a former Bethlem and Maudsley nurse I saw first-hand how important it is for people to access outdoor space and nature to aid their recovery. The Bethlem Garden is a unique and wonderful example of NHS staff providing a vital service, supported entirely by charitable funding.

“We are already seeing the tragic impact COVID-19 is having on people with existing mental illness, as well at those experiencing mental illness for the first time in their lives. With projects like the garden being under increased pressure to help more people – when many other activities are cancelled at this time resulting in increased isolation and loneliness.”

“Please donate to this important cause today – for every £1 you donate will be doubled.”

The Bethlem Royal Hospital Therapy Garden uses the power of gardening to help patients recover from severe mental illness. The world’s oldest psychiatric hospital, dating back to 1247 and once known as ‘Bedlam’, Bethlem – which is situated on Croydon Road – is one of the country’s leading mental health hospitals. It has a long history of successfully using horticulture to support patients and there has been a therapeutic garden on the site in Beckenham since 1930.

The garden has been able to operate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, creating a lifeline for patients who might otherwise have had little opportunity to be outdoors, especially important during the challenging time since March.

The garden, which is funded by the Maudsley Charity, allows patients to connect with nature, grow fruit and vegetables, learn about healthy eating and engage with wildlife. The weekly sessions, led by horticultural therapy experts and volunteers, provide a safe, special place away from the hospital wards, in which to explore, develop and socialise with others. The sessions also offer paths to employment opportunities.

One patient said: “Throughout the pandemic, the therapeutic benefits of gardening have given me a sense of calmness and relaxation in a somewhat chaotic life. Being outdoors with nature means for that short period I can breathe, and nothing else matters. It also helps me to discover new talents and in time build up my confidence, which is something I lack on a daily basis”.

This December, the garden is taking part in The Big Give (1-8 December), an annual campaign in which every pound donated is doubled through match-funding. This funding will ensure that the garden can continue to operate and support more patients.

At the time of writing more than £5,000 had been raised of the £20,000 target.

To donate, or for more information, visit: https://maudsleycharity.org/case-studies/bethlem-garden/

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