Sensory Rehabilitation Garden Project

Headway Oxfordshire is officially launching a brand new project to build a Sensory Rehabilitation Garden at our Activity and Rehabilitation Centre in Kennington.

It has been a project that we have been wanting to carry out for years. Our Activity and Rehabilitation centre has a garden, which is not currently used to its full potential, which is a real shame.

What difference will it make?

A Sensory Rehabilitation Garden is carefully designed to stimulate all the senses – individually and in combination – of its visitors, as well as providing an appealing experience for sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. As an open and safe space for service users, a sensory garden can serve as a:

  • Calming place with a seating area and ambience of calm to relax and recharge
  • Therapeutic space for service users to enjoy nature and to recuperate
  • Community area to grow Headway’s own flowers, vegetables and fruits.
  • Learning experience that appeals to service users’ senses, in which they can learn about nature, gardening and wildlife, increases socialisation and confidence.

As the garden will feature a variety of objects, surfaces, plants, scents, and sounds, it will be an important tool to those affected by brain injury, for learning new or regain lost skills, showing initiative and getting actively involved in upkeeping the garden. Just the act of planting a plant or casting seeds and later watching them grow and flourish, can be the most empowering experience.

Our plans for Headway’s own Sensory Rehabilitation Garden:

The garden will have a Summer House (to be used to teach garden lessons and woodwork sessions to service users), an accessible pathway in the figure of eight, a water feature, several raised flower beds, a herb garden, vegetable patch and fruit trees. As well as these features, it is important that the sensory garden has “everyday” features such as a lawnmower and a watering can/ hose to improve our service users’ confidence further when integrating back into community life.

The Sensory Rehabilitation Garden will be used primarily by our service users, specifically for people with brain injury, however not limited to the service users. We would like the space to be used by carers as a form of respite. This means that the project will make a significant lasting difference to a range of people within the community. For example, service users may gain their confidence back in a shorter time frame, the garden may teach people new skills such as growing vegetables, and it will certainly increase socialisation – which is one of the most important activities for people with brain injury. Overall, the aim of the garden is to bring happiness to people’s lives and improve recovery following a brain injury.

We are currently seeking grants and donations to go towards this exciting new project. We have been successful in securing a grant of £6,900 from Morrisons Plc, a donation of £507 from Play2Give, Plant Pots and soil from Tracey, manager at Homebase and Lavender from Paul, Service User at Headway Oxfordshire.

We are seeking funding from other sources from trust grants and donations and encouraging people to organise their own corporate or community fundraising challenges too. Therefore, we are launching an online campaign on Justgiving as part of our Sensory Rehabilitation Garden fundraising campaign.

We have already assigned a gardening professional who will run the project over time and is happy to invest their gardening expertise with our charity’s project. Additionally, Headway Oxfordshire is calling on those who love gardening and would like to get involved for a good cause, to join the project and volunteer with landscaping, planting and making the garden a unique experience. Donations of flowerbeds or useful tools to enhance the experience are very welcome.

The first stage of redesigning the garden began last week, with two morning sessions of planting flowerpots and learning about compost, watering and flowering. Our Service Users are already highly engaged in the project.

Phillip Clarke, Service User at Headway Oxfordshire said “I find gardening and working with nature very relaxing.”

Rodney Newman, Service User at Headway Oxfordshire said “I smelt the compost and the earth, and it reminded me of my gardening that I used to do before my stroke. It’s wonderful to feel the variety of plants and their different textures.”

If you would like to make a donation towards the Sensory Rehabilitation Garden Project, volunteer, or set up a corporate/ community fundraiser, please get in contact with Sharelle by emailing or call 01865 670541.