Zurich Community Trust transform garden for Swindon’s longest established homeless charity

By Jamie Hill - 8 August 2019

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Zurich Community Trust team joined Threshold Housing Link residents and staff for a Summer Garden Blitz and BBQ at one of the charity’s resettlement properties.

Threshold Housing Link are Swindon’s longest established homelessness charity, providing support to the homeless for 47 years, since 1972. Threshold offer short, medium and long-term accommodation support to rough sleepers in Swindon, as well as undertaking a street outreach and other support services. The Zurich Community Trust is one of the longest-established corporate trusts in the UK, established to bring about positive change to individuals and the community, The Zurich team have long supported the essential services Threshold provide in Swindon.

The Zurich team, to complement their garden blitz, created a sensory garden at the charity’s property in Pinehurst. The positive effects of sensory gardens are well established which is precisely why they are now common elements in places of education, healing, corporate environments, hospices and so forth. Renowned for not just being a place to relax, sensory gardens are known to significantly reduce subjective stress levels, lower blood pressure, modulate sleep wake cycles, and decrease agitated mood states – just some effects among a raft of positive effects identified by researchers. Threshold were therefore delighted that the team from Zurich Community Trust agreed to undertake this project, and to generously donate a BBQ for the residents to use and enjoy.

Threshold’s Social Impact Research and Project Worker, Georgina Pitts, remarked that “the event is an excellent example of community-driven social engagement which has a real impact upon the lives of people who are often vulnerable and not used to positive interactions and sensory experiences” and that “as predominately former rough sleepers, residents quite often experienced harsh reactions from some members of the public while they were homeless, so these positive interactions help heal the emotional wounds those negative experiences inflict”. Georgina also stated that “the event was not just meaningful for residents, one participant told me that they really valued talking with residents and gaining an understanding of how they became homeless, another told me that they felt great doing something for others, something that makes a positive difference”.

Threshold rely heavily upon support from the public and from corporate donors to make a positive difference to the lives of their service users. The charity welcomes offers of assistance from all interested individuals and organisations. Additionally the charity runs Swindon’s annual Big SLEEPOUT event every December and this year’s event is predicted to be the largest ever, and all are welcome.

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