Havering Mind gardening club is a ‘safe and non-judgemental environment’

PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 July 2016

Frank Nice, Malcolm Packford and Christopher Johnson who are members of the Havering Mind gardening club

Frank Nice, Malcolm Packford and Christopher Johnson who are members of the Havering Mind gardening club


Transforming an unloved bit of greenery into their very own garden of Eden has given many the opportunity to express themselves.

Havering Mind has been welcoming a horticulture group to spruce up its back garden for about three years and as time has gone on, it has become a growing success.

Volunteer Frank Nice, 72, believes that the weekly group sessions are a great help to those with mental health issues.

“There are many reasons gardening helps with mental wellbeing,” he said.

“A few of them include that it enables people to experience both success and failure and then work out how to do things differently and overcome failure.

“It gives people self-satisfaction and enables them to work in a team – our garden is a safe and non-judgemental environment.”

Frank has had a love for gardening from an early age and when he joined Havering Mind, setting up the horticultural group allowed him to express his love of the hobby.

He said: “I have always enjoyed gardening.

“I got that from my mum, however I have never been so involved as I am now.

“I am no expert and have trouble remembering one plant from another but we have a great group and I bow to the superior knowledge of others.

“When I joined Havering Mind in 1998, the garden was completely overgrown.

“I think in about 2000, a client asked if it was possible to clear a small area so that they could have a barbecue so, along with a trainee social worker, I started to clear bushes, trees and weeds so that this could take place.

“Since then it has developed.”

From rosebuds and chrysanthemums, to a pond that’s alive with wildlife such as newts and frogs, the rear garden of Havering Mind in Harrow Lodge House, Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, is now vibrant with colour thanks to the group.

Since the garden’s makeover, it has been used as a backdrop for a number of events and social gatherings to the delight of clients, staff and volunteers at Havering Mind.

Frank said: “When we first started the project we worked on a Monday.

“A particular client had trouble getting through the weekends and on Monday just put heart and soul into strenuous work.

“They said just looking forward to Monday kept them out of trouble.

“We have had clients who until they started to come to us never left their house.

“The garden provides a peaceful and safe place for people.”

The horticulture group meets every Thursday at Havering Mind from 10.30-3.30pm.

For further information on the group visit

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