A ‘UNIQUE’ horticultural therapy centre in Powick which helps hundreds of people suffering with serious mental health illnesses is facing closure.
A campaign has been launched to save Link Nurseries after the county’s health commissioning groups instructed the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust to save £250,000 from its vocational centres budget.
The Friends of Link Nurseries, a support group, is fighting to save the valuable service which helps people gain skills to aid their recovery from serious illness by growing fruits, vegetables and plants which are then offered for sale to the public.
Concerned campaigners believe the potential closure would be ‘damaging’ for hundreds of people.
They say the service has a proven track record of changing people’s lives and are urging as many people as possible to express their fears to Sarah Dugan, the health trust’s chief executive.
Judith Aldridge, from the Friends Group, said: “All of the centres provide valuable support for their service users but Link Nurseries is the only site to provide horticultural occupational therapy and the unique benefits of that, particularly in the treatment of mental health, are well-known and gaining support at all levels.
Malvern MP Harriett Baldwin has been asked to help the Friends group’s fight and has called for meetings to be held between her and health bosses to discuss a way forward.
“I have visited the Link Nurseries on several occasions and know of the great work that it does and I am keen to try and discuss this matter with the Health and Care Trust at the earliest possible opportunity,” she said.
“There is a huge groundswell of support for the resource. I hope to meet with Sarah Dugan to discuss this proposal and see what steps we can take to make better use of this wonderful facility and reassure my constituents.”
Bosses from Worcestershire health and Care Trust insisted nothing had been decided yet but said change needed to be made.
Mark Dickens from the trust said: “We remain as committed as ever to ensuring vocational activities and skills remain a key part of a person’s recovery process, and we have an opportunity here to sit down with those who have or currently use these services to design something which could increase options and opportunities to engage in more community-based activities, whilst retaining safe and convenient environments from which to co-ordinate the service.
“Although we recognise this is challenging, we think that by working in partnership with people we can develop a new type of offer which helps and supports a person to improve their confidence, learn new skills and regain that control and independence which we know is key to recovering from mental ill-health.”