Its name, the Garden of Freedom, was chosen following a competition amongst inpatient children on the paediatric wards. It symbolises the wish of them all – to be free to enjoy the outdoors.The Garden of Freedom, set away from the hospital’s hustle and bustle, was designed by local company Earth Wrights Ltd who, together with input from patients, their families and the hospital’s Play Therapy team, have created a wonderful space where children can take their minds off their visit to the hospital and gain confidence prior to, during or after treatment.
The design considers the accessibility and sensory needs of young people. It also provides a wonderful space for exploration and play. Displaying more than 200 plants, shrubs, herbs and trees, the area has begun to fill with natural insect wildlife. A play hut sits at the heart of the garden and allows children of all abilities to become immersed in their imagination as they play.
The children’s garden is also a triumph of local community spirit. Adding to the garden are two community-based projects providing exciting items for the children to find.
In a community project led by Kier Construction working in partnership with Cornwall College in Camborne, students, supported by their tutors, have created a wonderful colour-pencil-themed bench and some stunning objects of interest including bug hotels, metal insects and decorative copper hanging items across the garden area. Kier also worked to clear and prepare parts of the garden for painting.
Cornish fashion company Seasalt have designed and created an enchanted woodland-themed mural on the wall facing into the garden, which brings to life creatures such as stags, foxes, rabbits and owls, alongside secret fairy houses that are situated along a winding path for children to discover.
Other donations have been made by SJ Andrews of Redruth who provided materials given to the Cornwall College students; SeeTech, who painted the garden’s large fence panels and beams; Kier (again) for providing panel painting materials, and Gloweth Ltd of Truro for donating all the paint for Seasalt to create the mural.
A fundraising campaign is now underway to add some accessible, specialist play equipment to the space, including a basket swing which can be enjoyed by children of all ages and abilities.
“The additional play equipment we are fundraising for will provide an extra stimulus for our patients to explore an area outside of the hospital ward environment,”
says Melanie Gilbert, Clinical Matron, Paediatrics, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
“Play can help children and young people have a more positive experience of hospital and improve their wellbeing. It is also proven to reduce anxiety, fear and stress associated with being in hospital.”
“We are delighted to open this ‘Garden of Freedom’ today and hope it will be a wonderful space for our younger patients and their families to enjoy over many years to come, such was its predecessor, the Play 4 Life Garden,” adds Caroline. “I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous amount of hard work from everyone both within the Trust and also amongst our partners and suppliers, particularly those who have donated so much. This is a true community project where the people and local companies and organisations of Cornwall have come together to create something incredibly special.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the children’s garden fundraising appeal for play equipment can do so via: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/RCHTChildrensGarden or by scanning the QR code below: