All posts by Green Health Thames Valley

GHTV Beneficiaries Shine in Community-Led Research Project

This summer, Our GHTV beneficiaries have been actively engaged in a community-led research project that sought to understand the impact of nature and healthy eating habits on mental health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year we were successful in securing a grant that allowed our beneficiaries to learn new skills, build their confidence and produce an interesting piece of community research on the importance of good nutrition for mental health and wellbeing. The scheme, run by The Ideas Fund (part of the British Science Association – BSA) and funded by Wellcome, offered our beneficiaries a unique opportunity to run their own research project and present the findings in an interesting and engaging way.

Our beneficiaries discovered that there is often a deep emotional attachment to diet and eating, with long-standing habits passed down through generations. The response to questions about food and nutrition varied by gender, highlighting the need for tailored approaches. The interviews also unveiled the challenges faced by many, particularly those on a tight budget, in pursuing a healthy diet.

An unexpected but wonderful revelation was that more people were interested in gardening and had access to gardens than had previously been expected by the research team!

Thanks to the project grant, beneficiaries also had the opportunity to take part in expert-led nutrition sessions to enhance their own understanding of how good nutrition impacts specific health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Importantly, they learned that dietary changes could lead to reduced reliance on certain medications, complimenting the view of the charity, which maintains a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, recognising the importance of both nutrition and medication.

In the final stage of the project, our beneficiaries actively participated in creating a video that succinctly captures GHTV’s work. So successful was the outcome, that the video has proven to be an effective promotional tool for the future, capturing the essence of the charity, our aims and our impact.

This community-led research project served as a testing phase for a larger endeavour. Successful projects in the scheme will have the opportunity to bid for a larger grant, extending their research to a wider audience… and we hope to be part of that second phase.

GHTV is immensely proud of the dedication and enthusiasm our beneficiaries have displayed throughout this project. Their contributions have added depth to our understanding of the relationship between nature, nutrition, and mental wellbeing. We look forward to sharing further updates as this exciting journey unfolds.

If you’d like to see the video, take a look at our ‘what we do‘ page on the website.

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September 2023

Every year, on September 10th, the world comes together to observe World Suicide Prevention Day. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health, support, and understanding for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. At Green Health Thames Valley, a horticultural therapy charity dedicated to helping individuals facing mental health challenges, we understand the profound impact nature can have on mental well-being. On this World Suicide Prevention Day 2023, we want to shed light on the power of horticultural therapy in preventing suicide and promoting mental health.

Understanding the Challenge

According to the World Health Organisation, close to 800,000 people die by suicide each year, making it a global public health crisis. The emotional pain and despair that lead individuals to contemplate suicide are complex and often intertwined with mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Recognising the signs and offering support is crucial in preventing suicide, and this is where horticultural therapy can play a significant role.

Horticultural Therapy: A Healing Connection

At Green Health Thames Valley, we firmly believe that nature holds a unique power to heal and rejuvenate. Horticultural therapy involves using plants, gardening, and nature-based activities to improve mental health. It offers a holistic approach to well-being by addressing emotional, physical, and social needs simultaneously. Here’s how it can contribute to suicide prevention:

  1. Stress Reduction: Gardening and spending time in nature have been shown to reduce stress levels significantly. By providing a calming and peaceful environment, horticultural therapy helps individuals manage their emotional distress.
  2. Social Connection: Isolation can exacerbate feelings of despair and hopelessness. Horticultural therapy promotes social interaction, creating a sense of belonging and support that is crucial in suicide prevention.
  3. Empowerment: Taking care of plants and watching them thrive can boost self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment. These small successes can be significant steps toward recovery.
  4. Coping Mechanisms: Learning new skills in horticultural therapy can provide individuals with healthier ways to cope with life’s challenges, reducing the likelihood of turning to self-destructive behaviours.

Supporting Suicide Prevention

On World Suicide Prevention Day 2023, Green Health Thames Valley encourages everyone to get involved in supporting suicide prevention efforts. Here’s how you can make a difference:

  1. Spread Awareness: Share information about World Suicide Prevention Day and its significance on your social media platforms to raise awareness.
  2. Reach Out: If you suspect someone you know is struggling, reach out to them with empathy and understanding. Your support can make a world of difference.
  3. Volunteer: Consider volunteering with organisations like Green Health Thames Valley that provide horticultural therapy to those in need. If you’d like to offer your support to GHTV, please do get in touch.
  4. Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of suicide and how to help someone in crisis. Education is a powerful tool in saving lives.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 reminds us that mental health is a shared responsibility. Their informational video can be found here.

By working together, raising awareness, and supporting individuals in need, we can cultivate hope and make strides in reducing the incidence of suicide. Let’s join hands to nurture not only plants but also the mental health of our community.

The Volunteering team from PepsiCo enjoying a well deserved ice cream break

A Big thank you to the PepsiCo volunteering team!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to the team from PepsiCo Reading who kindly gave up their afternoon to join us today and offer some very welcome support in our garden!

Everyone worked incredibly hard despite the warm weather, and we achieved so much in such a short space of time! The garden is now looking beautiful and the irrigation system is in place which will help us in the warm weather in the coming months, we couldn’t be more grateful. It means our horticultural therapy team can focus their time and efforts on the important mental health and wellbeing work with our beneficiaries.

It was also wonderful to hear how relaxing and positive all the volunteers found the experience! A big thank you again to everyone and we hope you enjoyed those well-deserved ice creams!

If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer for GHTV, whether to carry out general garden maintenance or a specific garden project, as PepsiCo did, please do get in touch – working in our gardens can be a great opportunity for team building, learning and boosting wellbeing for all involved.

Councillor Rachel Eden Opens New GHTV Garden Building

On 11th May, Staff, clients, and supporters of Green Health Thames Valley gathered in the in the gardens to celebrate the opening of a much-needed new building. Joining us to cut the ribbon was long term supporter of the charity Councillor Rachel Eden, attending in one of her final duties as Mayor of Reading.

The new garden building will help the charity deliver important therapy services throughout the year and in all weathers, maintaining consistent support to those who need it most. It will offer shelter and shade whilst still feeling very much part of the outdoors and facilitate a wider programme of nature-based therapy sessions and life-skills classes, that will help the charity meet the needs of its clients now, and in the future.

Speaking about the new building, Sara Kopp, Horticultural Therapist at GHTV said:

“The new garden building at GHTV is an incredibly welcome addition to our charity. Each year we support people from within the local community who are suffering with a variety of mental health and well-being challenges.

Some arrive with us at risk of self-harm or suicide, so providing a consistent level of support throughout the year, particularly in winter months when things can feel most bleak, is incredibly important. Being in the garden in extreme weather conditions isn’t always feasible, however the new building will enable us to deliver our services all year round and ensure our clients remain supported when they need us most.”

To date, the charity has supported over 100 people to overcome, or better manage, their mental health challenges, leading them to a brighter future.

The new garden building, which was funded, built and furnished thanks to the kind support of a number of local businesses including Ikea, Screwfix, B&Q, ERL Landscaping, Connect Reading and Brothers Office Furniture, will play an important role in the ongoing provision of GHTV’s horticultural therapy programme to those in need.

Richard giving a speech at his leaving presentation

A Big thank you and farewell to Richard, our Chair of Trustees

It is with both gratitude and a touch of sadness that we announce the departure of Richard Byard, our Chair of Trustees, from Green Health Thames Valley (GHTV) this month. Richard has been an unwavering force of support for over a decade, dedicating himself to our mission of promoting mental well-being through horticultural therapy. His six years as Chair of Trustees have been instrumental in steering our charity towards continued success.

A Decade of Dedication

Richard’s journey with Green Health Thames Valley began more than a decade ago when he joined us as a trustee, at time when the charity’s future looked uncertain. Over the years, he became an instrumental supporter in our mission to bring garden-based mental health and wellbeing therapy to those in need.

His contribution extends far beyond board meetings and governance. He has spent hundreds of hours meticulously crafting grant proposals and bids to secure the necessary funding for our charity. His dedication to securing resources has been vital in enabling us to provide essential services to those in need.

A Heartfelt Thank You

Richard’s passion for our cause and his commitment have always been clear to all who have met him and we’d like to extend our sincere thanks for everything he has done for GHTV over the many years he has been involved.


Client Trip: Snowdrop Teas Open Day at Braziers Park.

Today we visited the community at Brazier’s Park in Ipsden to see their amazing display of snowdrops. Despite the rainy weather we all enjoyed strolling along the paths taking in the beautiful winter flowers. We were given a guided tour of the vegetable garden and the greenhouses by resident Sarah. We finished the morning with tea and cake in the drawing room of the main house.

We all agreed that we’d love to visit again later in the season and see how different everything looks with the sun out.

To learn more about Brazier’s Park, click here

Good News!

GHTV is delighted to receive funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. This has enabled us to improve our connectivity and organisational resilience – we have invested in new ICT equipment, improved our our digital presence, and it has allowed us to support our clients during the pandemic.

Volunteers Needed! No gardening experience necessary!

Do you have a couple of hours to spare on a weekly or fortnightly basis? Do you like getting outside and gardening? Then volunteering with Green Health Thames Valley could be for you!

We are looking for volunteers to carry out routine gardening tasks at our small garden in Whitley, working alongside staff and Clients to help maintain the garden. No gardening experience needed as full training and support will be given to you. All you need is enthusiasm and a willingness to give a few hours as a regular commitment.

We are open Tuesday and Thursday and can offer either a morning or afternoon volunteering session on each day.

We are COVID-19 secure and have procedures in place to make sure that everyone working can do so safely and comfortably. There will only ever be a maximum of 6 people on-site at a time.

If you are interested in coming to volunteer with us then please email us anytime at Alternatively telephone us on 07450 334091 (Tuesday or Thursday only).