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Social and therapeutic horticulture: the state of practice in the UK

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posted on 2007-07-02, 12:20 authored by Joe Sempik, Jo Aldridge, Louise Finnis
This Evidence Paper describes the main findings of a survey of 836 horticulture projects for vulnerable adults in the UK carried out by Thrive in partnership with the Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) as part of the Growing Together study. Horticulture, in many different guises has been used as a form of treatment or therapy for both physical and mental health problems. It has also been used in an organised form as a recreational or leisure activity for these and other vulnerable groups, including people with learning difficulties, asylum seekers, refugees, victims of torture and many others. The structured use of horticulture and gardening has developed from rehabilitation and occupational therapy and is known variously as ‘horticultural therapy’, ‘therapeutic horticulture’ and ‘social and therapeutic horticulture’ (STH) (see Sempik, Aldridge and Becker, 2003). In 1998 Thrive carried out a survey of known horticulture projects practising STH for vulnerable adults. Around 1,500 ‘projects’ were identified and became part of a network for the dissemination of information regarding training, meetings, new developments etc. It is through this network that Thrive has been able to provide support for those projects. However, it soon became clear that some of the entries in the database classified as ‘projects’ were not active ones. Some were individuals with an interest in starting new projects while others were projects that had closed down. In summer 2003 a new survey form was designed and distributed to the 1,500 named individuals within the Thrive network newsletter. Non-respondents were followed up with an additional form and then a telephone call.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

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  • Centre for Child and Family Research

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Issue 8


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