University students create gardening project in Plaistow to help young

The efforts of the students and the occupational therapy team transformed this part of the unit into

The efforts of the students and the occupational therapy team transformed this part of the unit into a bright, colourful area - Credit: Archant

Students from an east London university swapped books and laptops for shovels and paint brushes when they helped kick-start a gardening project for young people.

The students from the University of East London joined forces with the occupational therapy team at the Coborn Centre in Plaistow on a project that aims to help the young people of east London who use Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services.

The scheme helps young people to develop and take ownership of the once empty patio/garden spaces that surrounded the Unit through designing, planting and tending to living plants. Through interaction with nature, the initiative also brings with it opportunities for physical activity, use of all the senses, and the potential to harness the activity as a therapeutic tool.

Eileen Ward, one of the facilitators, said: “The young people have really engaged with the process and seem to enjoyed deciding on colour schemes and designs for their tables and planters.

“Two months into the current project they have changed their main patio into a more cheerful, aesthetically pleasing place to work.

“They were pretty dreary areas before we started. As well as planting flowers, plants and vegetables, they will be encouraged to nurture their own preferred vegetables going forward. Gardening is well recognised for having a positive impact on mental and emotional wellbeing.”

The Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health is an inpatient adolescent service in East London Foundation Trust treating young people with acute and severe forms of mental illness. These include major mood disorders, psychosis, severe obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, severe emotional disorders and some emerging personality disorders. It helps young people through the most acute phase of their difficulties and aims to reintegrate them back into their communities as soon as they are ready.