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Volunteers transform hospital garden

A group of aspiring gardeners, supported by Community Integrated Care, have used their skills to create a sensory garden in the grounds of Newton Community Hospital in Newton-le-willows, St Helens, inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Wild Isles’ series.

Two volunteers from Community Integrated Care planting aromatic plants in a wooden planter at Newton Community Hospital GardenThe volunteers take part in a gardening group run by our charity, in partnership with healthcare investor, Renova and its parent company Fulcrum who have helped to deliver 17 community healthcare facilities across the North West, including Newton Community Hospital.

The gardening group meet on a weekly basis to develop and practise their skills, with guidance from gardening experts, and were recently awarded a Level 3 -advancing recognition in the prestigious ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Awards from The Royal Horticultural Society and North West in Bloom, celebrating their gardening efforts.

Three volunteers proudly sit amongst beautiful green tall grasses.Having previously created a Rugby League World Cup 2021 themed area in the grounds to celebrate the tournament last year, the group recently turned their attention to creating a sensory garden for hospital patients and colleagues to enjoy peace and relaxation. The completion of the garden comes as Newton Community Hospital marks its 15th anniversary since first opening to patients and the local community in September 2008.

The volunteers embarked on the project, following the launch of a suite of free gardening and nature resources, co-developed by Community Integrated Care, the RSPB, National Trust, WWF and leading charity for creativity and arts in care, Age Exchange. Designed primarily for those who draw on and deliver social care, they take inspiration from Attenborough’s Wild Isles documentaries; offering low-cost, easy-to-deliver, and fresh new ways for people to have fun, stay active and enjoy positive wellbeing, whilst also respecting and celebrating local wildlife.

Amongst the resources is a Sensory Gardening Guide, which provides advice to people who work in or access social care, on creating beautiful, cost-effective and accessible sensory gardens. The guide can be downloaded for free here, along with other ‘Wild Isles’-inspired resources.

Gardening volunteer, John-Paul Darbyshire, said, “Our group absolutely loves gardening – we have such a good time each week, learning new things and creating beautiful spaces in the garden. It’s lovely to watch everything bloom and grow. We were really excited at the idea of creating a sensory garden for the hospital and we hope that everyone enjoys it and finds it a calm and happy place to relax.”

Renova General Manager, Amy Lawrence, said: “Newton Community Hospital has played an important role in the local area for the last 15 years, and along with the vital health facilities inside the building, this fantastic gardening project has also helped to create a welcoming, relaxing space outside the hospital for patients, NHS staff and local residents to enjoy. We are proud of Renova’s role in this innovative project, and huge congratulations to Community Integrated Care and all of the gardening volunteers for their well-deserved award.”

Find out more about the nature resources created by Community Integrated Care, the RSPB, National Trust, WWF and Age Exchange, and download a free guide to creating a sensory garden at 

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