Cherry Tree Nursery

A charity based on horticulture providing meaningful occupation in a supportive
environment, aiming to restore well-being to people with mental illness.
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Monday to Friday (all year)
8.00am to 3.30pm

Saturdays and Sundays

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Our research

5th may Back in 1990, The Sheltered Work Opportunities Project (SWOP) was founded in response to the need for therapeutic occupation for adults with long-term mental health problems. Cherry Tree Nursery was the first project, and since then, has grown from 4 volunteers to over 150 volunteers. In 2001, SWOP opened a sister project based in Poole called Chestnut Nursery, which now has over 60 volunteers. Throughout this period, the demand for the services and support that SWOP offers has continued to grow.
Due to the fact that SWOP is a registered charity, and that the majority of funding still comes from donations and plant sales, research work has been increasingly important over the past few years. This is so vital for three main reasons;


1. in order to prove that the project really does have a positive and profound effect on the volunteers who attend

2. to help highlight the project's weaknesses, and indicate improvements and changes to address these, as well as identifying additional needs

3. to continue to help make a case for setting up similar projects in other areas. There have been a number of new projects across the country that have been inspired by the work done at Cherry Tree Nursery, however, as previously stated, the demand for this type of support keeps growing.

The research work was started by our late Trustee, the Rev Canon Roslyn Aish. He spent three years diligently gathering data to show if there was a reduction in hospital admissions for volunteers following attendance at Cherry Tree Nursery. After Roslyn’s death the research was completed and published by a former volunteer, Matthew Israel, who is experienced in statistics. The results of the research show that a random sample of one hundred volunteers over a period of ten years showed a 92% reduction in hospital admissions, saving the NHS in the region of 2.75 million pounds.
Together with a current volunteer, Jane Colleau, Matthew has continued this research ever since. We have done detailed evaluations, and acted on the results. Please find further PDF files of these studies as downloadable documents below - they make very interesting reading.
To give a few examples of some of the research findings, a survey of 70 volunteers showed that 99% felt that their self-esteem had improved as a result of attending Cherry Tree, and 89% felt part of a family. 90% of volunteers felt more confident, 87% more independent, and 55% would consider open employment in the future.

We have been involved for several years in a research programme into ‘the horticultural nursery as a restorative environment’, investigating the surroundings and circumstances that promote well-being.

In 2013, we completed an in-depth combined evaluation questionnaire and review with our volunteers aimed at identifying ways to improve the services on offer. Among the results revealed, of the volunteers surveyed about how they feel while at Cherry Tree, 100% reported that they feel safe, 100% feel part of a community, 100% feel cared about, 96% believe they now help others, and 82% feel their motivation has improved.

Our current piece of research is investigating to what extent volunteers can carry their personal gains while at Cherry Tree with them into the outside world.

In today's world, the need for projects like ours continues to grow, and it is sometimes only when Cherry Tree volunteers describe their feelings about the nursery that we understand why this project must never close.

’My whole life has changed, and I feel a respected member of the community’




Our ongoing research
Research into the benefits of having no age limit
Results of 2008 evaluation
The effects of attending on mental health
The horticultural nursery as restorative environment
Towards a happier life
Research booklet

Cherry Tree Nursery
Off New Road Roundabout
Northbourne, Bournemouth
Dorset, BH10 7DA
Tel: 01202-593537
Registered Charity No 900325
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