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Top Physician Praises Sandwell Gardens

Helen Sneyd and Sir Richard ThompsonSandwell disability charity Ideal for All has recently welcomed Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians to its therapeutic agricultural gardens. Sir Richard is also a patron of Thrive, the national organisation for horticulture therapy.

He praised the innovative work happening in Sandwell which Ideal for All has pioneered in the borough to create green agricultural spaces to promote good health and wellbeing. He is an advocate for prescribing gardening for people experiencing mental and physical health problems.
 
Sir Richard visited the gardens at Salop Drive in Oldbury and Malthouse Garden in Smethwick which run a wide range of activities for people of all ages. The work focuses on encouraging people to eat healthy fresh food and take regular exercise.

The gardens run a wide range of healthy living activities including hands on horticulture, health walks, cooking classes, social events and learning programmes for all ages.
 
The Growing Opportunities team at Ideal for All has secured millions of pounds of funding and investment to regenerate the derelict sites into community agricultural spaces. The sites are used by diverse groups of all ages to learn about healthy eating as well as to help with rehabilitation and recovery from illness.  Sandwell Primary Care Trust also funds and supports the agricultural work done by the charity. 
 
Carol Goff, Chair of Ideal for All said: "We were honoured to welcome Sir Richard Thompson to see and hear about the therapeutic, social, educational and productive horticulture activities that form the Growing Opportunities programme.  People can be referred by GPs and health professionals, or self refer. We have a range of tailored,  supported activities and services for people with long term limiting conditions of all kinds, delivered in safe, beautiful, fully accessible gardens, or in medical settings by our qualified staff."
 
Dr John Middleton, Director of Public Health for Sandwell Primary Care Trust said: "The visit of Sir Richard Thompson to Sandwell's community agriculture initiative highlights the opportunities available to local GPs and other health specialists to refer patients to the Growing Opportunities programme, to help support them on the path to better experiences of health and wellbeing."

Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians said: "This approach to urban food growing is something that Thrive does not yet do, and is something that we could certainly look at and learn from. We should be training physicians about the value of gardening in the prevention and treatment of ill health, and doing all we can to encourage practising GPs to refer their patients to projects like Growing Opportunities."
 
To find out more about how you can get involved please call Veronica Barry or Helen Sneyd at Ideal for All on 0121 558 5555.

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