The Sensory Garden

This week’s HODs spotlight lands on the “sensory garden” at St. Andrews Police Treatment Centre in Harrogate. Fran Greenwood, Communications Officer at the treatment centre, tells us how the garden is a tranquil place for healing and rehabilitation.

© Sam Oakes Photography - Baroness Harris of Richmond opening The Catherine Gurney Sensory Garden at St Andrews Police Treatment Centre

Tell me a little bit about the history of the garden and its purpose?

Fountain at St Andrews Sensory Garden, © Sam Oakes Photography

Our sensory garden was designed by Ronnie Macmillan with the aim of helping in the rehabilitation of police officers. The garden is filled with highly scented flowers, touch pots and chamomile seats, allowing officers at the treatment centre a place to relax and spend time in.

The Sensory Garden was completed as part of a larger project, funded through a grant from LIBOR fines. The government has allocated nearly £10m to help support 200,000 emergency services personnel and volunteers. This funding was focused on mental health, physical recuperation and bereavement support.

How does the garden help the police men and women at the centre?

The sensory garden helps the state of mind of our patients. More so now than ever, particularly with the increase in violent crime, the life of a police officer is stressful and dangerous. We have found that, although many patients come to our centre for physical reasons and require physiotherapy, many need support with their mental health, suffering from stress, anxiety and other such conditions. The number of these cases is increasing. Being able to offer a quiet place for personal contemplation is of great benefit to these individuals’ recovery.

In recent years, the grounds at St Andrews have won a number of Gold and Silver awards from the Harrogate in Bloom contest.

What can HODs visitors get excited about this September?

St Andrews is not normally open to the public, except for one day as part of the Heritage Open Days. As well as enjoying our beautiful grounds, this September visitors can take a guided tour of the centre and its first-class facilities.  

Bench at St Andrews Sensory Garden © Sam Oakes Photography

On the day, volunteers from the Prison & Police Museum will be joining us at St Andrews to talk about the history of policing, with handling boxes including truncheons and hats, with more for people to see and try on! The centre also has a long and fascinating history. Opened in 1903, St Andrews has been a feature of the Harrogate landscape for more than 100 years. You can learn all about this and our work.

Additionally, Leonberger Therapy Dogs will also be joining us at St. Andrews. They visit the Centre once a week for a couple of hours and offer comfort, happiness and emotional wellbeing to the patients. Many patients staying at the Centre are dog owners themselves, or even work with dogs, and while away from home or work will be missing their canine companions. As a result they very much enjoy this opportunity to interact, spend some time with, and talk to these very friendly and gorgeous dogs.

The police treatement centre will open on Sunday 11th September, from 1030-1600. For full details click here.

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