NAAFI contributes £10,000 to community and mental health garden in Wales

Launched in 2020, the NAAFI Fund is committed to returning a minimum of £7.5m back to Armed Forces Units to invest in their own welfare projects over the next decade.

£10,000 was recently awarded to develop two garden areas at the Ministry of Defence’s St. Athan base in Wales. The project aims to create attractive garden areas in which Forces communities and the wider community in which they live can relax and socialise and help foster a sense of belonging and community spirit. The organisers’ focus is to provide an opportunity for garden visitors to maintain and improve their mental health and wellbeing, while also providing a safe learning environment for those that wish to explore gardening.

The two areas for development include a large space of nearly 600 sqm and another of 100 sqm. The larger area is split into three: a raised allotment area for people to grow what they wish in their own self-contained raised beds; a general area that will be collectively maintained for anyone to sit in and enjoy; and a pollinator area designed to give back to the environment.

The smaller, 100 sqm area will be more secluded, decorated with sensory plants and be a safe and tranquil place that acts as a mental health and wellbeing garden. Here, people will be able to sit alone or receive private coaching and mentoring sessions.

The development of the gardens has brought the community together and provided an opportunity for all to get involved. Hannah Hurley, the wife of one of the serving personnel, said: “As a family we have enjoyed helping with the development of the garden; from helping with the design of the garden, building planters, planting plants, watering them and watching them grow. It has been, and is, an ongoing, enjoyable experience, especially with giving my children the opportunity to see where Daddy works and helping with a group project. We look forward to using the garden and seeing it in full bloom as we spend our time here.”

Local Command, Wg Cdr Ben Trapnell – Stn Cdr commented: “The team has worked incredibly hard to create a unique space that will support the mental health of the whole team, including our Phase 2 trainees and local families. We could not have done this without the wonderful contribution by the NAAFI Fund.”

Round 3 of the NAAFI Fund will open in Spring 2022. To learn more about The NAAFI Fund and how to apply, click here.

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