PRISONERS with mental health at HMP Hewell will reap the benefits of a year-long gardening programme to help improve their well-being.

The scheme sees inmates at the Tardebigge jail meet with horticultural therapists from Thrive Birmingham in the prison garden once a week from November.

Amanda Fields, regional manager for Thrive in Birmingham, said: “In the first few weeks we will spend time getting to know everyone and focus on encouraging the inmates to plan what to do with the garden.

“This is good for their focus and motivation and we hope in the first few weeks they will learn new skills and embrace creativity.

“The prison already has a good outside space and we are looking forward to working with inmates who are not in the best of health, helping them reap the benefits structured gardening can bring.”

The scheme, which is funded by Health in Justice, includes activities such as planting flowers, harvesting vegetables grown from seeds, and caring for plants.

Thrive expects the therapeutic value of gardening will provide improvements over the 12 months in inmates’ physical and mental health and fitness levels.

A spokesman for the Prison Service added: “When you take some really rough and big prisoners who are doing some very careful tasks, like pruning or potting up or pricking out, the prisoners have time to think when they’re out there in nature and fresh air.”

Thrive is also looking for volunteers to help with this programme. Volunteers would need a DBS check and satisfy the relevant security conditions imposed by the prison. Contact Thrive Birmingham on 0121 293 4531 or email if you are interested.