OPINION: Homes are at the Heart of a Greener Country

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After looking at the benefits housing has on the economy, living standards and making ends meet, this week’s focus in the National Housing Federation’s #HomesattheHeart campaign surrounds the idea of a greener country.

A greener environment is an important way to promote positive mental health for some of our most vulnerable clients. A well-kept, outdoor space goes a long way to put a smile on people’s faces, either by spending time in a garden or park, or actively helping out in looking after them.

Thanks to donations, a disused piece of land has been transformed at our Keighley accommodation into a communal outdoor space for clients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a garden. With a vegetable patch allowing people to grow their own produce, this beautiful and peaceful plot offers an escape during difficult times.

Picture of our STAY at Home Keighley team

For many of us during lockdown, the pleasant weather meant we could sit outside and enjoy the sun. This went along way to help stay positive and upbeat throughout the troubling times. For some of our clients staying in our accommodation, having this opportunity was essential to maintaining a positive outlook and their mental wellbeing.

Gemma Mason, the manager of our STAY at Home service in Keighley, agrees with how beneficial green spaces are, commenting: “The purpose of the garden was to create an outdoor space for clients and staff to get involved with, in the hope that it would create a sense of togetherness for all those involved and a sense of achievement as each stage was completed.

“It allows clients to use skills they have. Some have no formal qualifications but have a wealth of knowledge and experience in different areas, that they have brought to this ongoing project.

“It was also interesting for those clients less physically able, as they are also involved in other ways such as making feeders for the wildlife, painting and decorating pots and drawing up ideas of what they would like the garden to include.

“It’s an opportunity to watch flowers and herbs grow that they have planted with their own hands. Other clients like to have key work sessions outside. It somehow seems less formal and they have said they feel better able to express themselves.”

For more from the #HomesattheHeart campaign, click here.