Green-fingered volunteers needed to help the elderly in Sidmouth pilot scheme

PUBLISHED: 11:40 31 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 January 2017

Roger Goulding in Connaught Gardens. Ref shs 50-16TI 3541. Picture: Terry Ife

Roger Goulding in Connaught Gardens. Ref shs 50-16TI 3541. Picture: Terry Ife

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A charity is seeking a green-fingered volunteer to bring the outside world back into the lives of care home residents in Sidmouth.

Roger Goulding in Connaught Gardens. Ref shs 50-16TI 3544. Picture: Terry IfeRoger Goulding in Connaught Gardens. Ref shs 50-16TI 3544. Picture: Terry Ife

Super Natured’s pilot scheme will see the chosen person tend to their garden, with their progress and the changing seasons filmed and beamed to the pensioners’ television screens.

Charity founder Roger Goulding said: “There’s a lot of research that proves any contact with nature – even virtual – has a beneficial effect, particularly on mental health.

“We want to create a window for care home residents onto their own virtual garden and a real connection to the gardener. I’m sure it won’t just be the garden they grow to love.

“Having something to focus on could really help them, and it will also make it easier for staff to manage them.”

The care home residents will be able to watch progress in the garden, the seasons change, plus live footage of birds singing and bees humming during the warmer months.

Father-of-two Roger, 45, who has played for Sidmouth Rugby Club, has produced other innovative ideas for the Department of Health – but he said austerity measures meant projects that did not yield immediate, wide-ranging results had been shelved.

“The things I wanted to do really add value to people’s lives, but the Government was only interested in the finances,” he said.

“I was working for the Environment Agency as a national policy adviser when they offered packages to leave. I grabbed mine with glee so I could go back to making a difference.

“Retirement homes do a lot, but they can’t do everything. This is a pilot scheme to show what the possibilities are.” As well as filming their gardening, the chosen volunteer will also pay regular visits to the care home and forge links with the residents.

In return, the volunteer will get support from the charity with the things they want to do in their garden and different ideas to try.

Anyone interested should email Roger at admin@supernatured.org.uk

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