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Gardening project flourishes thanks to Glasgow Airport

Gardening leave promo picture

Gardening Leave, a charity which provides gardening therapy for troubled serving and ex-service Armed Forces personnel, has been awarded £3,050 from the Glasgow Airport FlightPath Fund.

Established in 2007, the charity provides an important role addressing the invisible wounds of conflict by providing gardening therapy to veterans who have mental health issues. It is estimated around 20% of service personnel carry the invisible wounds of conflict.

The airport’s donation will be used to help the project develop a Wild Bird project, which will concentrate on encouraging wild bird species to the Gardening Leave site at Erskine Hospital.  The investment is expected to create new and exciting therapeutic activity for its users, helping them to relate with the natural environment and take care of its development.  It will also increase biodiversity in the area and enhance the surroundings of the garden which can be enjoyed by all attending veterans.

Specific activities will be based around encouraging wild birds to visit, eat and nest in the Erskine garden, including making bird boxes, nesting material holders, food stations and bird baths.

Gardening Leave has three main sites in Ayrshire, London and Erskine all offering therapy sessions designed to promote positive changes in the service men and women’s health and wellbeing. It will be opening a new site in Dundee later this year.

Councillor Sam Mullin of Renfrewshire Council, who sits on the FlightPath Fund committee, said: “Gardening Leave does a very inspiring job providing tailored therapy sessions for our service men and women and I’m delighted the Glasgow Airport FlightPath Fund is supporting such a worthwhile programme. Not only will this donation help the service users, it will also encourage greater biodiversity in Erskine by enticing more wildlife into the garden.  The FlightPath Fund’s three focus areas are education, employment and the environment, and this project certainly fits into all three categories.”

Heather Budge-Reid from Gardening Leave, said: “At Gardening Leave we try to find skills that veterans used in their Forces life and find a way for them to be used constructively in civilian life, making the transition that little bit easier. The same skills can be used to identify aeroplanes, tanks and uniforms as birds and so we encourage veterans to take part in citizen science projects at our sites such as the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Veterans at Gardening Leave Erskine enjoy doing this and have recently built a bird hide in the garden. This donation will help us really bring this part of our work to life and will benefit all those who attend our project as well as local wildlife. Thank you!”

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