Members of the Montpellier Allotment Project Working Party embarked on an ‘eggs-traordinary’ mission at the weekend, to rescue and rehome a brood of battery hens.
Victoria Woodruff, Senior Occupational Therapist and EAP Team Leader at Montpellier Low Secure Unit, along with some of her colleagues and service users, ‘egg-stradited’ eight chickens from a local battery farm to offer them a lovely new home at the therapeutic allotment on Horton Road in Gloucester.
Victoria said: “This felt like a great thing to do. Caring for and giving these chickens a little TLC can prove very therapeutic for some of our patients – as well as some of our members of staff.
“Initially the eight girls, who we have named Dolly, Wendy, Lilly, Karen, Sunny, Holly, Molly, Doris and Roberta, are being housed in a large pen that we have built ourselves. They have access to a large coop which has a see-through roof so we can watch them when they roost.
“The eggs that the chickens produce will be sold to help raise funds for the ongoing allotment redevelopment project. They will also allow us to cook ourselves breakfast in the ward kitchen.”
For years the Montpellier allotment and green space at Horton Road, Gloucester, has provided an invaluable resource. The half-acre site is regularly accessed for rehabilitation, development and meaningful engagement by patients at Montpellier Low Secure Unit, and those who access the Trust’s services countywide. It is also a resource which is utilised by GHC colleagues, community groups, local organisations and education providers in Gloucestershire.
The site has been significantly refurbished in recent months to include new fishponds, a nature area, a chicken paddock and an aviary. There are also areas to grow and cultivate produce, which is used in cookery programmes.
Senior Occupational Therapist and EAP Team Leader Victoria Woodruff and service user Roger speaking with HRH The Princess Royal during her recent visit to Montpellier Therapeutic Allotment.
In January this year the allotment received a visit from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who was very impressed by the site and the benefits it offers through the provision of various therapeutic interventions. You can read more about the royal visit here: Royal Visit to Newly Developed Therapeutic Allotment > Glos Health & Care NHS Foundation Trust (ghc.nhs.uk)
The site is managed by service users, occupational therapists and other colleagues from the Montpellier Unit, with the purpose of helping people with mental health conditions on their road to recovery. Other teams and local services also benefit from spending time in the allotment and developing their skills.
Service user Roger (pictured above), who has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the therapeutic allotment, said: “It felt really good going to collect the chickens, knowing we were able to offer them a good life. It’s important to take care of all creatures and I feel like I’m part of something really positive at the therapeutic allotment.”