Patients get ‘green fingers’ in Brixton

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A new project is helping patients and staff to get active in the garden at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Pulross Centre in Brixton.

Patients at the centre, many of whom are inpatients on wards and receiving intensive rehabilitation, are actively encouraged to attend the weekly drop-ins alongside staff and visitors who live locally.

Molly Lamphear, 78, from Streatham Hill, is a former Pulross patient who now volunteers and leads the garden project at the Pulross Centre. She said: “As one gets older it’s important to stay engaged otherwise you moulder.

“It’s quite exciting to come along and see that the beans, for example, have come up in just one week. It’s so important to see your handywork and receive that almost immediate reward.”

Kevin Solomon, 54, from New Cross, who has multiple sclerosis and was an inpatient at the Pulross Centre in June, said:  “I live in a high rise flat off the Old Kent Road so I don’t do anything in the garden. But this garden project has been so much fun. I know when I go home I’ll be planting herbs for my windowsill.”

All vegetables and herbs grown will either be given away to patients and staff or sold at a regular market in the staff restaurant on the King’s College Hospital site.

Heather Campbell, clinical lead and head of neurorehabilitation service at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “At the Pulross Centre we support people to get back into the everyday activities they enjoy, like gardening, while maximising their recovery. This means that even if people are in a wheelchair, or have limited hand and arm movements, they can still join in.”

Aidan Cleasby, a community facilities lead for Guy’s and St Thomas’ whose team helped build the garden, said: “Once the planters are in place it’s just a case of refreshing the area every year with top soil, plants and seeds. There is very little impact upon the environmental footprint and the benefits to our patients are huge. We are very proud of that.

“Patients can get outside, particularly in the spring and summer months, plant, water and prune the plants, which is much more stimulating than sitting on a hospital ward. This complements their recovery process and enhances their wellbeing.”

Ed Rosen, director of the Lambeth GP Food Co-op, said: “This project provides a great opportunity for patients like Kevin to engage in social activity in a safe and secure environment and to learn how to grow veg.

“While we’re talking about planting we’re also increasing their awareness of diet and nutrition and improving their understanding of health and wellbeing.

“When we sell veg on the stall people love the idea of buying a bag of kale grown by patients!”

The project is funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and run by Lambeth GP Food Co-op who build gardens in GP surgeries and NHS health centres to teach patients how to grow food safely.

The weekly drop-ins are run by therapists at the Pulross Centre on Thursdays from 10.30am to 12noon. For more information visit

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