College gardening project is an AoC Beacon Awards 2019 finalist

Gardening is enjoyed by millions as a source of relaxation, and is being used highly effectively by Bridgwater & Taunton College to attract, engage and support vulnerable adults.

In recognition of the positive impact that two Horticulture-based initiatives are having among adults with mental health issues, many of them former drug and alcohol addicts, Bridgwater & Taunton College is delighted to have been Commended and selected as a finalist in the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Awards 2019, in the Skills and Education Group Award for Social Mobility and Widening Participation category.

These projects aim to promote mental and physical wellbeing through the calming and therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature. Participants work towards a Level 1 City & Guilds award by carrying out practical, gardening-based tasks both at College premises and at local allotments. Many participants successfully re-engage with society and progress to further qualifications and employment.

The College is now discussing how the programme might be adapted to benefit younger people with mental health issues, as well as ways in which the learnings might help schoolteachers deal with pupils’ challenging behaviour.

Now in its 24th year, the AoC Beacon Awards celebrates the best and most innovative practice among UK Further Education colleges. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London in March 2019.

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