Green light to improve outdoor space and create sensory garden at Hollyacre House

Launchpad’s Hollyacre House in County Durham has benefitted from improved green open space and the creation of a sensory garden for residents to enjoy thanks to funding from Esh Construction, part of Esh Group.

Launchpad is one of 12 charities and organisations who have benefitted from grant funding from the Greener Communities Fund, which aims to help communities become ‘greener’ through carbon reduction, environmental improvement and education.

The fund was launched by Esh Construction, working in partnership with County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF), an independent grant-making foundation that allocated £50,000 to support projects which centre around green skills, climate resilience, improving green spaces and habitats.

When Launchpad took over the management and operation of Hollyacre House in Sacriston in May this year, the grounds around the house were extremely overgrown, paved areas were covered in weeds to the extent the paving was not visible, the grass was dead and the grounds were strewn with overgrown gorse bushes.

Staff and residents living at the scheme, which comprises 18 flats for veterans, took it upon themselves to clear the ground as much as possible, but a lot of work still needed to be done.

Phil Thompson, Manager of Hollyacre House, said:

“We are very grateful to Esh Construction and CDCF for giving us this donation. From work undertaken in our other two houses, we know access to nature/outdoor spaces, plays an important part in our veterans’ recovery and research by the Mental Health Foundation demonstrated that connectedness with nature improves mental health.

“The transformation of the garden and creation of a sensory garden is amazing. Residents living at the house will help to maintain it, as gardening has proven mental health benefits.”

Always keen to establish and build links with the local community, Launchpad engaged the local nursery team to carry out the improvements and create the sensory garden. Works includes clearing the overgrown bushes and replanting attractive low maintenance plants and shrubs to attract wildlife, create a large lawned area with paths and seating for the residents to enjoy and create a 40 sq. meter sensory garden with colourful and fragrant plants to stimulate senses and attract birds and nature to provide peaceful, calming sounds.

Kate Marshall, Social Value Manager at Esh Construction, said:

“Launchpad’s new sensory garden is the perfect example of why we set up the Greener Communities Fund, with the new space providing environmental improvements as well as mindfulness and mental health benefits for individuals. Giving back to the local community is at the core of Esh’s values, we are delighted with the outcome and hope that it supports veterans for many years to come.”

As part of the Greener Communities Fund, Esh pledged to support a minimum of ten communities across the areas it operates in the North East and Yorkshire, awarding grants of £2,000 up to £5,000. Launchpad has been awarded £5,000 with the remaining monies for the works funded from a £7,500 donation by Launchpad ambassador James Rose who raised the money for climbing Mount Toubkal in Morocco.

Launchpad provides vital accommodation and support for up to 100 veterans across three houses in the North of England and helps residents to transition from military to civilian life. Hollyacre House comprises 18 flats and communal facilities such as a lounge, kitchen, IT suite and gym. Residents are supported for up to two years (longer if necessary).

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