An Oxford Health Charity project to develop a Peace and Tranquillity Garden at Abingdon Community Hospital has been given the green light and work will begin on 24 August.

As part of the trust’s ‘Green Spaces Framework’ set up in 2019 to develop outdoor spaces and support people’s health and wellbeing through nature, this project will see the transformation of an unused grassy area into an accessible quiet, safe space to be enjoyed by patients, staff and visitors.

Mandy Mckendry, modern matron for urgent care across Oxfordshire, started the project in summer 2019. Inspired by a visit to Witney Community Hospital gardens, Mandy could see there was a need at Abingdon for something similar.

“I saw the gardens at the Witney and thought that there was a huge opportunity to turn the grassy area outside the Urgent Care team office into a tranquil, green space for those who just need a bit of respite.”

A firm believer in the therapeutic power of green spaces, Mandy secured £10k funding from Oxford Health Charity which supports projects that enhance patient, carer and staff experiences at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Oxfordshire’s community hospital.

Mandy, who won a Helpforce Champions award last year in recognition of her contribution to volunteering in the NHS, quickly rallied a team into action and plans were set in motion to break ground over Easter 2020. However, the project had to be put on hold during the lockdown.

The team includes Tom Cox, Oxford Health’s Artscape Manager who brought in Chiltern Rangers, a not for profit practical conservation group who have helped on other Trust garden projects in Buckinghamshire.

Tom said: “Chiltern Rangers are helping us to develop our outdoor spaces as part of the trust’s Green Spaces Framework which was set up with the aim to support people through nature. We are really looking forward to getting this project back on track!”

Kerry Rogers, Oxford Health’s director of corporate affairs said: “It is wonderful to see such commitment to this collaborative project that will make such a difference to the health and wellbeing of staff as well as patients.”

Chiltern Rangers, their volunteers and Oxford Health staff will be working on the garden over the summer and hope to have it open and ready for use in September.