Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s New Leaf service has scooped a prestigious national award as part of The NHS Forest project. New Leaf, which is the umbrella name given to the vocational rehabilitation services based at Hillcrest in Exminster, has been named ‘Most Innovative NHS Forest Site’ for the pioneering work that has been undertaken under the NHS Forest banner. Don Crispin, Manager at New Leaf, explains: “We have always focused heavily on issues around the environment and sustainability and our involvement with The NHS Forest has been perfect for developing some of our projects. To be named the most innovative site in the country is a huge pat on the back for everyone involved with New Leaf – we are delighted.” Included in the project at New Leaf is a ‘recovery forest’ where people can plant trees including red oak, ash, maple, wild cherry and holly as part of their recovery. They are then invited to participate in the maintenance and use of the forest. Some 200 fruit trees, including apple, pear, plum and cherry, have also been planted in the last two years. Some of these are used in chutneys and preserves and are sold on the site. Three hundred Christmas trees have also been planted and there are plans to plant a further 250 trees each year, to be sold alongside plants from the nursery and wreaths that are made-up on the site. New Leaf also has close ties with a neighbouring bee-keeper and with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which helps to manage its fields and boundaries for the benefit of the rare Cirl Bunting and Woodlark species. New Leaf incorporates five main vocational rehabilitation services to support people with mental health needs. These are a horticultural nursery called Hillcrest Growers; Wood Works, which provides carpentry projects; New Leaf Café, which provides supported training in a cafeteria environment, Clothing Works, producing printed garments and New Leaf Print, a small commercial printing business.
The NHS Forest aims to improve people’s access to green space by planting trees and holding community activities on NHS sites across the United Kingdom. Research has found that access to nature and green spaces improves recovery rates of patients but also boosts staff morale. Rachel Stancliffe the Director of The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare said: “New Leaf has shown how the use of trees and their care can help all of us build a better future for ourselves and others. We want to now open up the Forest for everyone to be involved through our Tree Sponsorship Scheme.” Rachel went on to say: “The Forest will win hearts and minds by connecting NHS staff with a highly visible project to introduce the broader issues of sustainability. If you have ever been cared for at a hospital, want to say ‘thanks’ or simply want to see a greener NHS, our gift cards are an ideal way to show your support.” The NHS Forest is a national project coordinated by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. The project’s central aims are:
• Improving health of staff, patients and communities through increasing access to green space on or near to NHS land. • Greening the NHS Estates and with a target of 1 tree per employee amounting to 1.3 million trees. • Encouraging greater social cohesion between NHS sites and the local community. • Bringing together a range of professionals and volunteers to produce woodland that includes the use of art, food crops, woodfuel and biodiversity. For further information contact Peter Leggatt 01392 208693