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Sensory garden transformed by volunteers

A sensory garden serving people with dementia near Maidstone was transformed this week.

From Press releases - 8 July 2015 12:00 AM

A sensory garden serving people with dementia near Maidstone was transformed this week.

Volunteers from UK Power Networks Services and their sub-contractors turned a bland space at The Goodman Centre, Madginford, into a colourful garden teeming with plants and interest.

The equivalent of 45 working days was donated to the project in Egremont Road over the last three days (July 6 to 8). All the volunteers work on high voltage engineering projects for privately owned electricity networks across Britain such as hospitals, ports and universities.

The long list of jobs they tackled included replacing 14 fence panels, installing a solar-powered water feature, making a new rabbit run and painting the hutch. They also potted up new plants, cleared overgrowth, laid down a membrane and covered it with gravel to stop weeds. All woodwork was treated, a new shed was installed, a garden bench and a pagoda renovated and the conservatory was cleaned.

David Denham, maintenance manager at UK Power Networks Services, said: “The garden was very overgrown and featureless but now it’s tidy, secure and has features. We gained a fantastic sense of fulfilment from the project because two members of our staff have had close relatives diagnosed with dementia and one of our team is married to a dementia carer.

“Visitors sit in the conservatory looking over the garden and hopefully we have created a much nicer environment for them to enjoy. We painted the new fence panels green, pink, yellow and lavender as they asked for bright colours. At the seaside the beach huts are painted different colours so we have tried to recreate that soothing feeling of being by the sea.”

The Goodman Centre provides a homely day care facility for those diagnosed with dementia. It offers temporary relief to family members and loved ones providing full-time care for relatives.

Matt Wood, dementia services manager at The Goodman Centre, said: “It’s going to make the biggest difference in the lives of people living with dementia. We feel so humble about what these guys have done. We have lots of people coming to us and this will make a huge difference. The staff and clients are overwhelmed - it’s unbelievable and absolutely amazing.

“Gardens are great for dementia because they provide sensory stimulation for the eyes, sight, smell, sound and touch. It’s had such a big impact here and we cannot thank the guys enough for what they have done because we had nothing beforehand.”

The team gave their time through the company’s volunteering scheme which encourages all staff to spend two paid days each year volunteering in the communities they serve. Last year employees spent more than 4,200 volunteering hours working with local charities and conservation groups, its biggest ever year of volunteering.