Grow Places is a social enterprise founded in 2014 by psychiatric nurse and garden designer, Paul Herrington.
As a psychiatric nurse, Paul specialised in day care (including coordinating an allotment project and a work project gardening for local sheltered housing), social inclusion and triaging GP referrals in the NHS mental health services.
As a garden designer, Paul was awarded a Bronze Medal for his Chelsea Flower Show garden in 2004 and has designed many gardens for private and commercial clients.
Paul was fortunate to win the support and mentorship of both Social Incubator East and the Eden Project's Big Lunch Extras to establish Grow Places. With extensive experience of both health and horticulture sectors, Grow Places is able to offer participants and funders a comprehensive package of education, health promotion, employment and volunteering support.
In 2013 Paul was commissioned by music charity Squeaky Gate to work with a group of their students with mental health challenges to design a show garden for the Chelsea Flower Show.
Their design, One in Six, highlighted how common mental health problems are in our society, and was accepted by the Royal Horticultural Society, who described the design as 'bold and innovative'.
Although funds were not forthcoming to realise the garden at Chelsea, its centrepiece, a tensegrity sphere, made by Allan MacRobie from Cambridge University's Engineering Department, was featured in 2014 at the National Trust gardens at Anglesey Abbey as part of their Winter Lights Festival. Anglesey Abbey visitors enjoyed the tensegrity sphere so much they commissioned one of their own!
It's gratifying to read that the influential Kings Fund report - "Gardens and Health", which examines its own and others research on therapeutic horticulture, corroborates the Grow Places core beliefs:
"Gardens are intimately connected to our health and wellbeing across the life-course. There is much more that the health and social care system can do to take advantage of our love affair with gardening, but there are four specific areas of good practice: in social prescribing; community gardens, volunteering and recovery from illness; dementia care; and end-of-life care."
David Buck, The Kings Fund, Gardens and Health, Implications for Policy and Practice, May 2016
Grow Places is actively recruiting an Advisory Board made up of participants, volunteers and representatives of the health, business and horticulture sectors.
The Advisory Board will meet four times a year, and its decisions will inform the future direction of the organisation. Please get in touch if you think you might have skills to share.