ISS completes Royal Hospital garden as charity launches campaign

The refurbishment of a garden used as horticultural therapy by armed forces veteren charity Gardening Leave has been completed by ISS Facilities Services Landscaping as the charity launches a new 'Honesty' campaign.

The campaign calls on people to be honest about the mental health problems faced by members and former members of the armed forces and uses the honesty seed head as an emblem.

It asks people to sign a pledge on the Gardening Leave website. So far 250 ISS staff members have done so. Around a quarter of the company's portfolio is comprised of Ministry of Defence contracts.

Gardening Leave launched the campaign at its new-look horticultural therapy garden at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. ISS Facilities Landscaping staff has just completed work on the facility, adding bespoke raised beds, designed to make gardening easier for veterans with balance, back or knee problems or in wheelchairs, and a custom-built shed where therapists can work with veterans out of the rain.

Chief executive of Gardening Leave Heather Budge-Reid said: "Stigma can have a direct impact on a troubled veteran’s recovery, making them reluctant to seek help and becoming increasingly withdrawn. We need to understand the facts and reduce stigma by increasing civilian understanding of the issue and showing veterans they are understood by their community.

"We chose the honesty seed as the symbol of this work because in the darkest months of the year, the honesty seed head catches the sun’s rays and offers hope to all those who see it."

The garden was the fourth worked on by ISS Facilities Management Landscaping staff.

Managing director Phil Jones said: "It is a cause which they have very much signed up to and which has heightened awareness amongst our workforce of the problems our Armed Forces veterans face."

"Our support of Gardening Leave is a cause very close to our hearts and we are proud that our continued assistance will benefit our country’s veterans and help them on their road back to health and civilian life. ISS staff have been at the forefront of our efforts, giving time and skills and working together to ensure that the various garden projects have been completed in time and fit for purpose"

It is estimated that around three to four per cent of veterens suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but 16 per cent have depression, anxiety or another mental health issue. A vast majority – 81 per cent in one survey – report feeling ashamed or embarassed about their condition.

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