Creative lifeline inspires care home residents to design and build community garden for all to share

Residents at risk of isolation during the pandemic are transforming their outdoor space, creating a community facility they can enjoy with families and the wider community.

The group of men and women at Mandale House Care Home on Acklam Road, Thornaby, Stockton, are celebrating after being awarded £5,000 from the National Lottery and Ikea’s Places Called Home fund today (OCT 14).

With visitation restrictions in place to keep residents and staff safe at the height of the pandemic, the work to transform the garden aims to rebuild and strengthen community relationships, as well as celebrate the links already made.

Sarah Robinson, activities coordinator at the care setting, said: “We reached out beyond the home during the pandemic and have loved doing online art sessions with Equal Arts. “They’ve been a real lifeline to keep residents involved and engaged with the outside world. “Residents made bird boxes to watch from our nature hide, making some extra for children at the local nursery. Working with artists, residents now want to turn their garden into a colourful and enjoyable place to spend time together.”

Known as the Mandale Marvels, the group will be joined by Equal Arts’ artists to build a pizza oven, design and make ceramic tiles, build planters for growing vegetables and develop the outdoor space for events.

Jos Forest Melville, from Equal Arts, supports the Hill Care Group home, which is part of our HenPower project. She said: “Throughout lockdown online creative sessions proved a key and effective way to keep people connected. This garden will help make community connections that will be long-lasting and is something that ties the group and community together with a shared interest regardless of age, where we live or our physical or mental capacity.”

Over the next few months residents will work with horticulturists, visual artists and ceramicists to bring their ideas to life.