The Gardening Leave project is aimed at bringing ex-servicemen and women together and uses the garden to provide structure, routine and exercise – all embedded in military life and often sadly lacking in civilian life, which can lead to feelings of isolation and a sense of lack of control over one’s life.
Horticultural Therapy is the use of plants by a trained professional as a medium through which certain clinically defined goals may be met. Using the ethos of horticultural therapy, veterans with mental health troubles who attend Gardening Leave projects will benefit by improving their social skills by engaging in conversation; their motivational skills such as punctuality and their personal skills such as appearance, health and fitness.
We are evaluating the impact and sustainability of the Gardening Leave Project in Erskine and in London. The study examines the mental health and wellbeing of ex service personnel as well as the cost effectiveness of the programme compared to other services.
We will measure these outcomes for ex-service men and women at the beginning when they first participate in Gardening Leave and then six months later (regardless of whether they continue to access Gardening Leave or not).
We currently are in the process of collecting data.
Lauren has extensive experience conducting research projects and evaluations across the fields of mental health and learning disabilities in both the UK and in Canada. She holds a MSc in Mental Health Studies and a BSc in Psychology.