SAGE Greenfingers (SAGE) will be launching a new horticultural therapy session from January 2012. This single session will replace the four currently running, due to reductions in funding.
The project, which has been very successful and popular with users and health professionals, has been unable to secure the funding needed to maintain current levels of support.
SAGE has decided to engage with the new system of ‘Personal Budgets’ in order to provide at least some service to users, who will be able to pay using their budgets. By the nature of this funding, the sessions will be for those with more pressing needs.
Diana Tottle, the manager, admitted that they must see the current situation as an opportunity, however difficult:
“Up to now, we have had no success in getting money from the health service. Though they like us in principle, they couldn’t find the money.”
SAGE has no choice but to grasp the initiative and pare down its services, and from this platform develop new projects that might be offered freely to those who cannot afford to pay.
Over the past year, through the Refugee and Asylum Seekers project (RAS), SAGE Greenfingers has been able to support some of those most vulnerable within the asylum system. The Messenger spoke to Waleed Al Bashir, originally from the Sudan, who has been attending the Thursday session for 7 months. He said:
“The project is good for people, it helps you get out of the house, it gets you to see other people, digging together”.
Melvyn Hollingworth has been attending for 3 years, having been recommended to the project after the amputation of his left leg in 2007, he commented:
“It's a great shame, I can't afford to pay and I don't think I'll get this new personal budget. It's a good project because people are doing something different. I did what I could, even some digging, taking care of seeds in the greenhouse. All the money, it's going to the Olympics, not to people like me”.
Building for the future
SAGE envisages that they will continue to offer a core service of one session a week for the next year. They hope to develop other projects through separate funding schemes, which could include singing, ceramics workshops, mosaics, cards, pressing flowers, Christmas garlands, SAGE intend to offer ever more diversity.
It is also striving to link up those members it can no longer support to other activities to help fill the gap. If you or someone you know will be affected by this announcement please contact SAGE Greenfingers at:
email@example.com or on
0114 274 3651