Photo credit: EKRPICTURES -Ellie Rhodes, volunteer photographer for Ashgate Hospicecare
Students from a school in Derbyshire have launched a business creating and selling botanical-themed merchandise to help raise vital funds for Ashgate Hospicecare.
The project has been developed thanks to a partnership between technology consultants Capgemini, vocational training consultancy Placing Futures, and Brookfield Community School.
Capgemini has been supporting Ashgate Hospicecare for the past two years, donating £1,000 towards the hospice’s Horticultural Therapy Project which aims to get patients gardening again to support physical and mental wellbeing. It was the firm’s Mark Lodge, who initially developed the idea. Mark is also an Enterprise Advisor, volunteering his time in schools to increase students’ engagement with businesses and awareness of career opportunities.
“It was whilst at Brookfield Community School that the idea was born to run a competition for GCSE textile students to design items that could be sold to raise money for the Horticultural Therapy Project at Ashgate Hospicecare” he says.
“The designs were then judged by Day Hospice patients and the winning three were turned into merchandise. By doing this, not only have the students been able to develop their entrepreneurial skills, they’ve also gained an insight into what the hospice does and why the money they are helping to raise is so important.”
Thanks to the hard work of the students, the enterprise is hoping to raise an extra £230 in from the total sales of aprons, mugs and canvas bags designed by the students. This project will be the first of many initiatives led by the students that will raise funds for patients at the hospice, as well as developing their creative and business skills.
Mark said:” “We know how much Ashgate Hospicecare’s Day Hospice patients really enjoy spending time in the hospice garden. Many people with a life-limiting illness have lost the physical ability or confidence to garden, or lost enjoyment of their own garden because they feel so emotionally or mentally low.
“The Horticultural Therapy Project has given them back the confidence to garden again in a safe and sociable way. It’s been amazing to help this project grow and to see that the hours Capgemini staff have volunteered getting the project set up has made a real difference to the lives of patients.”
Director of Placing Futures Limited, Gail Widerman added: “Having worked for several years as an Enterprise Coordinator (an affiliate to the National Careers and Enterprise Company), it is my directive to engage local businesses with schools in order to enhance careers guidance for students in Chesterfield, North Derbyshire and Bolsover.
“This collaborative project that raises money for Ashgate Hospicecare is very close to my heart, having lost several family members to cancer over the last few years. It was my pleasure to initially finance the project with Brookfield Community School. The hope is that this project will be the start of an enterprise challenge that future GCSE students can engage in for years to come, raising yet more funds for patients under the care of the hospice.”
Dawn Jepson, Occupational Therapist at Ashgate Hospicecare and Horticultural Therapy Project Lead, said: “Capgemini and Placing Futures’ continued support, alongside Brookfield Community School engagement, of the Horticultural Therapy Project, both financially and practically, has been greatly appreciated by all the staff here at Ashgate Hospicecare.
“The feedback from patients has been very positive, whether they have actively participated in the gardening activities, some of whom thought they would never get their hands dirty in soil again, or simply sat and enjoyed the outdoor space. For our patients who have never gardened before, it has given them the opportunity to learn new skills.
“We hope to continue to build links with our local community, such as has been achieved through this exciting project with Brookfield Community School. The Horticultural Therapy Project continues to grow, and we are now supported by a team of enthusiastic volunteers of all ages and abilities who help to run sessions, come up with new ideas and maintain our grounds. We hope to attract further support and would welcome anyone who may wish to volunteer in the gardens or help towards funding the project.”
For more information visit Ashgate Hospicecare