Nature Recovery Ranger, Sally Johnson, and Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Fellow, Dr Emily Parker, have been working on a significant stakeholder consultation for the garden design of the new children’s outdoor space at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle. The project has been supported by Howick Hall Gardens and Arboretum, Northumberland Zoo, Trust Red and the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Dr Emily Parker and Sally Johnson
Dr Emily Parker and Sally Johnson launching the garden design competition
One of the winning garden designs
One of the winning garden designs

Patient-led garden design

The original idea came from a young patient who wrote a letter to the trust suggesting a garden. The project then grew from there. Working alongside trust staff, Sally and Emily consulted around 100 children and young people as well as over 20 members of staff.

Children and young people were invited to submit their garden design ideas as part of a competition. Alongside the winning designs, the ideas from all the entries were submitted to the architect in the form of word clouds and a mood board so that every child who entered had their thoughts represented. The final garden designs are expected later in the year.

Co-design for sustainability

Emily explained why the consultation was so crucial: “I believe co-design is a really important aspect of sustainability. We are working to inclusively involve patients and staff in every stage of the design process through competitions, consultations and outreach. This will hopefully ensure that the green space we eventually build is fit for purpose, accessible, and attractive to anyone who wishes to use it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing all the brilliant ideas that have been submitted throughout the process and can’t wait to see what the architects come up with in response.”

The project has been a great example of rangers and clinicians working together to engage with patients and stakeholders in the community to create a green space that puts the garden’s users at the heart of the design.

Read more on the NHS Forest website about our Nature Recovery Rangers programme and visit the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare website to find out about the sustainability fellows programme.

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