College and trust relaunch Link Nurseries

Worcesterhire-based horticulture therapy centre Link Nurseries has relaunched at an event attended by supporters, staff and stakeholders.

High Sheriff of Worcestershire, Sir Nicholas Lechmere, Mayor of Malvern, Cllr Cynthia Palmer and Chairman of Malvern DC, Cllr John Raine cut the ribbon to officially relaunch the nursery, which is a community-focused horticultural centre offering therapeutic and educational services for local people, including those recovering from mental ill-health, in a positive environment.

WCG Worcestershire (formerly Warwickshire College Group) has recently taken over the management of the nursery with support from the Bransford Trust and Friends of Link Nurseries - and the involvement of representatives from the local community, service users, the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust and NHS South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. Phil Woodhead has been appointed as manager of the nursery, and along with volunteers has transformed the site since starting the role.

As part of the relaunch, a Christmas Open Day will take place on 8 December from 9am-5pm where Christmas wreaths, plants, gifts and juice will also be on sale to support the project.

Andrew Cropley, group deputy principal at WCG said: "Today has been a great celebration of Link Nurseries and we hope it will continue to go from strength to strength. This collaboration provides a fantastic opportunity to develop an enterprise that delivers horticultural therapy, healthcare and educational benefit from the site in the longer term.

"We want to thank everyone who has been involved in getting us to this stage, including the Bransford Trust, Harriett Baldwin MP and the Friends of Link Nurseries, and look forward to welcoming new clients and users to the nurseries, as we expand the provision.

"Link will also be an outlet for the sale of plants to the public to help raise money to ensure the sustainability of the initiative, so we want to encourage the local community to come along and see the work that goes on and support us as much as they can."

Colin Kinnear, trustee of the Bransford Trust said: "We are delighted to work with Warwickshire College Group, the Friends and the local community to help create a horticultural therapy centre for the benefit of all those in need of this type of support. This is the type of community initiative that the Bransford Trust supports in the Worcester area.'' 

Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire added: "I am delighted that services have been preserved at the Link Nurseries and am grateful for the efforts of Colin Kinnear and his team at the Bransford Trust for working so hard to provide a structure for saving the site as well as the commitment from Warwickshire College Group.

"I hope that by moving the operation into the hands of the college, we will be able to make much more of this highly valuable local resource while retaining the core ethos of care at what is the last remaining plot of the old Powick Hospital.

"This is a great example of collaboration between the public and voluntary sectors and I look forward to popping in to pick up locally grown produce for many years to come."

Link Nurseries was one of three centres run by the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust providing vocational services and activities for people recovering from a mental health condition. Following a countywide re-design of the provision, the Link was due to close at the end of June 2016 due to a change in the way services are provided locally by the NHS. After an evaluation of the options for continued operation, WCG took over the management of the site with the support of the Bransford Trust.

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