Shields Health Hub Community Garden

As part of our work in North Tyneside we have been working with a range of partners across primary care, public health, the voluntary sector, the arts and creative sector, and design, to help turn unloved spaces into more vibrant, peaceful, enriching places to be – healthier happier places! The focus of this project was an unused space outside of Shields Health Hub in North Tyneside.

In partnership with:

This initiative is a collective between North Shields Primary Care Network, NHS Property Services, NHS Northumbria Healthcare FT, VODA, North Tyneside Art Studio, North Tyneside Council, HI NENC and the ICS.

Hugely grateful to all friends involved who helped make this project happen. A true team effort! Special mentions to NHS Property Services who provided funding for implementation, as well as being a supportive hand, with patience, and dedication throughout. North Tyneside Art Studio have been amazing team members, and an essential part of both the design process, and coordinating the creation of artwork within the garden by citizens. To the Garden at the Hub Community Association – a dedicated group of people from the local community who volunteer their time, energy, and enthusiasm to growing and maintaining the garden – without which the garden wouldn’t have survived or looked as wonderful as it did in it’s first year! To VODA and North Tyneside Council’s Public Health Team who contributed funding for growing, great ideas for the garden, and advice on community association set up. To North Shields Primary Care Network and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who allowed us to do our thing and get creative in the space. With particular thanks to Dr Dave Tomson, (now retired) Clinical Director of the Primary Care Network, without whom the project would not have come to fruition.

This project and Healthy Happy Places was made possible through funding and support from the Integrated Care System Mental Health Programme and Health Innovation North East and North Cumbria.

View our video about the garden below:

The Evolution of the Garden

The site before the regeneration project and while work was taking place:

And the fantastic results afterwards…

‘Garden At The Hub’ Community Association now set up. A regular group of 8 volunteers now care for the space.

What inspired you to become involved and how did you help bring the garden to life?

“I haven’t been involved in the creation of the garden as a staff member. I have however had discussion with the gentleman doing work about the space at the back of the clinic. Talking therapies looks out onto this space and I have utilised this as a “safe green space” with a client and also myself and a colleague have put in a bird feeder. Its encouraging the wildlife and so therapeutic to see this through our window. Discussions about a formal path, sitting area and insect hotel have been had.”

Why are spaces like this important to you and the community (and the organisation, if relevant)?

Green spaces are hugely important to our well-being. Having access to a green space for staff and patients creates an implicit and explicit understanding of this. Green spaces move the autonomic nervous system into a ventral vagal response of calm and connection.

What emotions or feelings does the garden evoke for you / or those who spend time here?

I have spent time in the garden with clients as a means of experiencing the feeling of calm. We have used the smells of the herbs and the tastes of strawberries to connect with sensory experiences.

Can you share any examples of how the garden has changed the way people interact with the environment and/or think about their mental health and wellbeing?

When working with a lady (who first language was not English) and an interpreter we used the garden to connect not through language but through our shared experience. The garden allowed for a different connection that really enhanced the therapeutic relationship.

What would your hopes and vision be for the future of the garden?

To continue building the sensory experiences, water smell, touch, sound… attracting butterflies or birds.

If this garden could tell its own story, what do you think it would say?

That everyone matters, that we are all the same, staff and patients.

That this shared space is about understanding our connections and how nature is very healing.

Want to join in?

If you are interested or curious, please come along, whether that’s for an hour to get out of the house into some nature, or to get stuck in with some gardening, or to volunteer on a more regular basis, everyone is welcome. No booking is required, but if you do have any questions, or would like to check if someone will be around, please get in touch with Peter on 07398269468.

From March 2024, Community Association volunteers will be available at regular times on the following dates:

Tuesdays 10-12 from 19th March 2024

Thursdays 12:30-3 from 21st March 2024

Saturday’s from 16th March 2024, 10-1 (for a trial period to gauge interest)

We hope you enjoy reading, watching, listening, and taking part!

If you’d like to join the Healthy Happy Places mailing list, please sign up here. We’d love to have you join us on the journey.

You might also be interested to check out our webinar series

Thanks for reading.