A memorial garden has been created at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust in response for staff, patients and visitors, thanks to help from former footballer Joe Cole and his wife Carly.
The garden, which is near the tram bridge at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, has a dedicated space for people to reflect, remember and recharge, after what has been an already challenging year.
The idea for the garden came from Joe and Carly Cole’s new NHS Gardens initiative – a project through their new charity called the 11 Foundation.
The QMC is one of the first hospitals to benefit from the initiative, which aims to help the health and well-being of NHS staff across the country in response to the impact of Covid-19. It is also a reminder that a connection to nature can help to improve mental health.
Further to their recent charity work which helped raise over £1 million to provide PPE and well-being packages for NHS staff, Carly and Joe decided to establish their own foundation –the 11 Foundation- in order to help enable sustainable programs of work designed for immediate and longer-term benefit to NHS staff, patients and visitors.
The project has been designed in collaboration with award winning garden designer, Jo Thompson, to benefit the health and well-being of NHS staff across the country – including at Nottingham University Hospitals.
As well as providing these cathartic gardens, these transformed spaces are being designed to become a place to host health and well-being classes, treatments,cognitive therapy, mindfulness meditation and yoga - all of which can help address the physical and psychological symptoms of stress and trauma connected working life in a busy hospital.
Sarah Moppett, deputy chief nurse for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We are incredibly gratful to the 11 Foundation and Nottingham Hospitals Charity for making this happen.
"An organisation is only as good as its staff, and our staff are quite tired.
"We don't have a lot of outdoor space at the QMC and this was just weeds.
"So it is fantastic to have a beautiful garden here because people really have begun to value outdoor spaces during the past six months."
Carly Cole, founder of The 11 Foundation, said: “I am delighted to launch the 11 Foundation with my husband starting with our NHS Gardens concept, in collaboration with Jo Thompson. We both share a passion for the positive impact of mother nature and what gardens can have on individuals and communities. We recognised that gardens are desperately needed resources at hospitals to help boost morale and to improve mental health.”
Joe Cole, added: "I'm a big believer in the power of nature, even more so when we were all cooped up, for your mental health and well-being.
"When we spoke to our friends and family who work in the NHS we said, 'What do you think you need?'
"There are another two more being rolled out in London and there will be more.
"It will blossom in the summer, it will grow and it has features like different levels which will help stroke patients with their walking rehab."
Jo Thompson, an award winning garden designer and winner of four gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, said: “I’m a firm believer in the restorative powers of Nature. Our NHS gardens have been designed with the immediate and longer-term needs in mind. In addition to creating an environment where staff can instantly connect with nature, to rest, reflect and recuperate; the gardens will also be places to deliver therapy treatments, and host health and well-being activities.”
The ambition is to extend the reach to more sites with support from like-minded funding and delivery partners. It is also hoped that this idea of gardens for the NHS will inspire others across the country to support their local or district hospital to provide more of these much-needed sanctuaries.
For more information, please visit www.11foundation.co.uk