Offenders create Preston hospital garden

Offenders sentenced to unpaid work by the courts are helping to create a community garden at Guild Lodge hospital in Wittingham, Lancashire.

Offenders sentenced to unpaid work by the courts are helping to create a community garden at Guild Lodge hospital in Wittingham, Lancashire.

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Offenders sentenced to unpaid work are helping to create a hospital garden.

The work at Guild Lodge Hospital in Whittingham, near Preston, involves the transformation of a two-acre site, and more than 1,000 hours have so far been spent on the project.

It is being carried out by a group of men under the supervision of Cumbria and Lancashire Community Rehabilitation Company, and is hoped to bring “long-lasting benefits” to patients and staff.

The site is being transformed into a garden with polytunnels, flower and vegetable beds, bee hives and wildlife areas.

Elizabeth Harrison, common ground service manager at Guild Lodge, said: “The garden is looking spectacular and patients are being encouraged to get involved and learn horticultural skills so they can grow their own vegetables. The Community Payback team has worked hard to create something that will bring long-lasting benefits to patients and staff at the hospital. As a result of this project, we have been able to set up a new charity called Common Ground which aims to support the NHS by creating more preventative health and wellbeing initiatives like this one.”

Stephanie Baxter, Community Payback practice manager for Cumbria and Lancashire Community Rehabilitation Company, said: “If this work was paid at minimum wage, it is the equivalent of paying back around £6,565 to the community. The projects we take on are of a voluntary nature so they do not deprive others of paid work. They also give offenders a routine, the opportunity to learn new skills and work as part of a team which can help to change their behaviour so that they don’t re-offend in the future.”