Horticultural Community Restitution Work Programmes for Mentally Disordered Offenders

Published: 25 Jul 2017

Horticultural Community Restitution Work Programmes for Mentally Disordered Offenders

Richard Eltringham, an Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner from Leicestershire, has recently returned from a four week research trip to the USA to investigate horticulture based community restitution programmes for offenders with mental health issues. His travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Award, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society.

As the lead facilitator in horticulture at Arnold Lodge, a medium secure inpatient unit in Leicester, Richard has established patient volunteering opportunities in the local community for mentally disordered offenders. He hoped to use his observations of best practice during his travels to inform his own clinical practice.

On his Fellowship, Richard visited a number of sustainable projects in prisons and other correctional facilities. He witnessed some striking practices, including the use of plant nurseries in secure facilities that help grow endangered native plant species for habitat restoration for local nature reservoirs.

“I feel laden with knowledge, after a journey across 12,444 miles and three states. One of the most inspiring things I saw was twenty men in a high-security facility coming together to design a little piece of happiness and tranquility within their temporary home. They had assistance from SWA, an international landscape architecture firm who volunteered their time by helping to produce the final scale drawing of the garden. Such opportunities can help to reduce the violence and aggression people experience while in custody and help them reintegrate into society when they are released” -Richard Eltringham

Now back in the UK, Richard plans to use the experience of his Fellowship to work with people incarcerated in the UK to construct gardens in secure facilities. He hopes to use the knowledge he gained on his travels to enhance the skills of staff delivering horticulture programmes. He aims to develop partnerships with conservation organisations to grow and nurture plant species for restoration in the many nature reserves around the UK.

Richard is also hoping to build upon the relationships established during his Fellowship by working with his design team at Arnold Lodge and the men of California State Prison to design a garden for each other and exchange knowledge about different planting styles across the world.

Notes to Editors

Contact: Richard.eltringham@nottshc.nhs.uk

Phone: 07525 470 027

Arnold Lodge

Arnold Lodge provides medium secure inpatient services for adults and older people with mental illness and/or personality disorder. It is run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust https://www.nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/

The Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was founded in 1804, and their core objective is to be the world’s leading gardening charity by inspiring passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. To mark the tercentenary of Capability Brown, the RHS is jointly funding three Fellowships for horticulturists and garden designers.