Broomfield hospital is a large general hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, and is part of the Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust. The hospital joined the NHS Forest after planting trees in 2010. Broomfield Hospital has an extensive green estate, including two woodlands in the hospital grounds: Puddings Wood and the Long Shapely Belt. Puddings Wood is an ancient, semi-natural woodland covering two hectares, and Long Shapely Belt is a one-hectare amenity plantation, approximately 80 years old.
The trust is proud of having this natural estate, and is aware of its corporate responsibilities in providing a therapeutic environment for all visiting its hospital facilities, internally and externally. A variety of outdoor-based activities have taken place within Broomfield Hospital’s natural estate, coinciding with the launch of their ‘Natural Health Service Project’ - a community-based initiative that provides a hands-on volunteering experience in a natural environment alongside sustainable living and conservation education.
A community-based vegetable garden and fruit tree orchard have been maintained since 2014, with weekly sessions every summer. The Wellbeing Terrace opened in 2015, transforming a disused tarmacked area into a relaxation area for patients, visitors and staff to all enjoy, complete with seating and activity equipment. Two clinically led dementia gardens (Forget-me-Not and Live-Well) have been developed, providing a safe, secure and therapeutic environment for patients with dementia, their family and staff. Educational twilight bat walks have been run since 2016, providing a unique introduction to an endangered British species. A garden is also being developed, designed for patients visiting the cancer unit. All these projects have only been able to take place thanks to the dedication of volunteers, with 100% charitable funding.
This is a fine example of how collaborative working on an NHS Forest site can effect positive change. See this 2014 case study for more details about the project.
How much carbon do we save?
Working with estimated numbers, we have calcuated a rough carbon sink, equating to 700 tonnes over the trees’ lifespan and around five tonnes of carbon offset per year.