New sensory garden opens at Stoke-on-Trent community centre

A new sensory garden has opened in Stoke-on-Trent and is ready to use. The garden located at Goldenhill Community Centre will be used to support people with mental health problems, isolation and those with learning disabilities.

Just Family, which is a community interest company based at the community centre, contacted the Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents Association (SAGE) secretary Tom Simpson over converting the outside area into a sensory garden and asked if he knew anybody over getting a quote.

Tom then made contact with RMG (Residential Management Group) and JLB (Property Maintenance), with the firms promising to fund the project for the community. The work was carried out by Malcolm Saul and the team at The Green Styling Company.

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Malcolm Saul is the grandson of the late Fred Loads MBE, founder member of BBC's 'Gardeners' Question Time' and he studied alongside Alan Titchmarsh at The Hertfordshire College of Horticulture.

Tom said: “What we have to realise is that the purpose of the garden, which along with Just Family is to support people with mental health problems, isolation and those with learning disabilities. So, from an initial email request of support from Just Family to Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents Association is a garden which has bloomed and as they say from acorns grow mighty oak trees, but from a residents group grows a sensory garden.”

Iolanda Serrao Cox representing RMG, speaking at a recent meeting of the residents association said: “When Tom approached us to have a little look at the local community hall to see whether we could help with a project to create a sensory garden here at the centre, to support the Just Family charity for use by the local community. It was a no-brainer to RMG to support this project.

Paul Boddington, from JLB speaking at the opening of the sensory garden, added: “It’s an honour and a privilege really to jointly fund this. It’s fabulous and far exceeded expectations, it looks really, really great.”

The sensory garden is planned to be open whenever the community centre is open and will be available for anybody to use and destress from the pressures of daily life. The selection of plants are designed to change with the seasons and will do different things at different times of the year.

Brett Whitehouse on behalf of Just Family said: “On behalf of Just Family, the families we support and everybody in the local community, thank you to everybody. I can’t put into words the benefit this is going to have to the families we support and the local community.

“Last year alone we supported 1,200ish families, they are all going to get the benefit of this plus everybody using the centre here. It’ll be open whenever the centres open and there are no hire on.

“Anybody who wants to come in and have a cup of tea and a sit down will be more than welcome. We’ve been blessed with some fantastic weather this week and you could be anywhere in the world, to think you’re sat in the middle of Goldenhill, it’s absolutely fantastic.”

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