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Master Gardeners Offenders' Intervention
Experts in our Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience are working with partners in HMP Rye Hill to encourage these same changes and benefits among prisoners in an effort to create a long term intervention for substance misuse offenders, and to help promote new ways of developing skills and actions.
It is widely acknowledged that being out in the fresh air of a garden, nurturing and growing plants, can make a beneficial contribution to mental and physical health. Our own research – carried out through the volunteer network ‘Master Gardener’, which we support – has shown that encouraging more people to grow their own food can lead to a range of positive behavioural changes including boosting the sense of community and general wellbeing improvements.
A study was first set up to see how the gardening intervention programme could impact on offenders and aid rehabilitation both within a prison environment and post release. It also wanted to identify the potential benefits and challenges of such a horticultural intervention in a prison setting to look at future possibilities if the expected positive results were shown.
The programme of work with the offenders has been a success, helping to foster a sense of community and learning opportunities for its participants and supporting the recovery, health and wellbeing of participating offenders over the year-long study.
As a result of the research, key evidence was found to support HMP Rye Hill’s plans to establish a recovery unit to help support the rehabilitation of substance misuse offenders during their time in prison and upon their release.