Back in 2018, I came up with the idea to transform the Action for Children garden in Stornoway as part of my Queen’s Nurse project. The revamped garden was officially opened by NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson in August 2019 and has since flourished delighting staff and service users alike.
The Queen’s Nurse residential awakened me to a world we see daily but don’t often appreciate or examine. As a Community Psychiatric nurse, I see first-hand the positive power nature has on recovery and I continue to adapt therapeutic treatments (even more so since the beginning of the pandemic) to encourage a deeper focus on and appreciation of the world around us.
When constructing the garden, the plants we chose were not all native plants, but instead whatever had a chance of withstanding the sometimes turbulent island weather! But every garden helps to promote a sustainable future for the planet and this one also helps develop positive coping strategies at times of emotional turmoil.
I caught up recently with Valerie Russell, Children’s Services Manager for Action for Children about the project and she said:
“Having the garden made over by you and the volunteers has made a huge difference to the children who use the service. It is bright and colourful, and they enjoy being outdoors playing on the swing or wandering around looking at the plants. The fresh air helps them to destress and also helps them relax. We are really grateful for your support and for all the effort made by the volunteers. Thanks again.”
I don’t know anyone who could honestly say that the past year has had no impact on their mental health. If I had not been fortunate to live on a croft and have the distraction of the ever-changing beautiful yet harsh environment around me, I’m not sure I could have continued doing my job, which I love.
The best outcome I would hope for moving forward, is that more people accept that our planet needs us all to care if we are to preserve such a unique gift that we can all enjoy.