University ground staff offer a helping hand to Northampton mental health patients

Pictured L-R: Darren and Angie from the grounds team with Gary and John Howes.
Pictured L-R: Darren and Angie from the grounds team with Gary and John Howes.

Ground staff at the University of Northampton recently teamed up with St Andrew’s Healthcare to offer patients the opportunity to gain work experience.

1st Degree Facilities, the company which maintains the University of Northampton estate, has offered work placements for people using St Andrew’s employment support service, Workbridge.

Gary, who has experience in gardening and horticulture, undertook the first placement on campus, where he spent eight weeks working with the ground staff.

He said: “I’ve been going to Workbridge for eight years now, and I have enjoyed getting my hands dirty at the Workbridge garden centre.

"This placement was great, I’ve been pruning plants, collecting the leaves and helping in the University allotment. It was a great opportunity for me, and I hope it leads to other things.”

Workbridge – part of St Andrew’s Healthcare – supports people with mental illness, learning disabilities, autism or brain injuries.

John Howes, the grounds supervisor for 1st Degree Facilities, said: “We were only too happy to work with St Andrew’s and offer its users the chance to work alongside our team.

“We’ve been really impressed with Gary’s horticultural knowledge, and he’s proving himself to be a fantastic asset to our team. Hopefully, the experience he picks up working with us will help him to find employment.”

As their confidence grows, the Workbridge Employment Support Service helps people to take their skills to the next level, offering 12-week work placements with a variety of local employers.