Planting Ideas

RHS and The Children’s Foundation extend pioneering gardening project for Children’s Mental Health

Now in its second year, the partnership between The Children’s Foundation and the RHS has been set up to look at the effect of practical gardening on the development of children’s self-confidence, social skills and mental health.   

Hands on

Hands On: Sean Kirkup – Teacher, Mandy Morrison – RHS, Shane Helgaard- Pupil, Stella Ellis – Teacher, Andy Francis – Pupil, Michael Morgan – Pupil, Sarah Carrie – RHS, Peregrine Solly – The Children’s Foundation and Libby Nolan – The Children’s Foundation.

Sarah Carrie, RHS North East Schools Advisor, will be steering the project, funded by The Children’s Foundation at Southlands, a senior school for children with moderate learning difficulties, a number of whom have additional social, emotional and behavioural difficulties or other more complex needs.  Sarah will be an added resource in school’s provision to support a number of students who experience problems in managing their behaviour, in addition to having difficulties with their learning.

RHS Strategic Development Manager Claire Custance said, ‘we are delighted to be working with our partners at The Children’s Foundation, they are so passionate about children’s mental health.  Our previous research has shown that gardening actively helps children and young people develop resilience as well as helping them to prepare for later life. We are now working together across a number of schools to deliver these benefits to as many young people as possible’.

Grown Goods - school grown produce used in the school’s Food Technology programme.

Grown Goods – school grown produce used in the school’s Food Technology classes, made into jams and chutneys.

Mr David Erskine, Headteacher at Southlands, said “At Southlands we take the view that it is the social and emotional difficulties a young person faces which drives their challenging behaviour and it is these we address in our support programmes. Horticulture is proving to be a wonderful vehicle on which to focus this work.”

“The benefits are enormous and proving to be central to the development and engagement of some of our most needy and challenging young people.” Mr Erskine, commented, “They have a real pride and interest in their work and are already reaping the benefits in so many ways. No pun intended but it is most certainly an exciting growth area and reflective of the diversity of provision we seek to pursue in meeting wider and often quite complex needs.”

One pupil remarked “It helps me through the day knowing I’ve got gardening in my timetable.” Another pupil agreed “Because I’ve got The Garden Project I want to come into school.”

Southlands Pupil

Shane Helgaard, Southlands Pupil digs up a late summer carrot.

Peregrine Solly, Chief Executive of The Children’s Foundation added, “Improving children’s Mental Health across the region, is one of the key aims at The Children’s Foundation. This project, looking at the effect of gardening and the associated skills that accompany it, will make a difference and will have a positive effect on these vulnerable children with sometimes very complex needs.”

RHS representative, Mandy Morrison and The Children's Foundation's, Chief Executive, Peregrine Solly,  talking to BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, Marion Foster.

RHS representative, Mandy Morrison and The Children’s Foundation’s, Chief Executive, Peregrine Solly, talking to BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, Marion Foster.