Help to save Link Nurseries!
I recently wrote a blog entry about the gardening charity Thrive, and how it helps people dealing with physical and mental health problems and of how it has helped hundreds of people throughout its history.
Today, in mid-October, I am writing again with a more local focus, but on a similar issue. The hard-working people at Link Nurseries, in Powick, are facing an uncertain future as funding for the horticultural therapy centre, run by the NHS, is being slashed by £250,000 by local health commissioners.
It will almost certainly mean closure for the Worcestershire nursery.
At the centre, the participants on the scheme plant and grow vegetables and fruit that is later sold on to the public. They hold the occasional coffee morning and carry out maintenance on green public areas. Interaction with the public is an important activity for the participants as it helps to rebuild their confidence. It is the only one of its kind in Worcestershire.
I’ve said before that gardening and working on an allotment helps people with stress and keeps you active and fit, both of which are key ingredients in the fight against illnesses such as depression. If Link Nurseries close, then the two remaining vocational help centres in the county won’t be able to provide a similar service (they are located at Shrub Hill and Redditch).
The question that needs to be asked is a simple one: can it be saved without the use of public money? A quarter of a million pounds is a very large hole to fill. But like all things in the present climate, we need to become a society that can do more with less. Projects need to be self-funding to be sustainable.
Hopefully, the NHS Commissioners will be willing to entertain suggestions for a few alternative models to allow the site to continue. Perhaps the energy of the private sector can be brought into play so that the centre can meet the majority of its own costs.
And we should consider the alternative. Link Nurseries is situated right next to a new housing development, just over the road behind the Crown Pub. If it is to close, then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the land, with its 1.6 acres, might one day find itself marked for development. After all, Worcestershire as a county has tied itself in various knots about housing.
In the meantime, Friends of Link Nurseries has asked people concerned for the future of the site to contact the Chief Executive of the NHS Trust, Sarah Dugan at Isaac Maddox House, Shrub Hill Road, Worcester, WR4 9RW, to let them know how they feel.