Ailsa Hospital Workshop, Gardens & Wellbeing Project – 14 June 2022

For someone who had never presented on zoom before George Nish made a more than satisfactory job of it. In a well-crafted and illustrated talk, he demonstrated a natural talent for delivering a concise, to-the-point message in a very listenable manner.

George, a senior charge nurse at Ailsa hospital, is responsible for running NHS’s Acorn Furniture workshop, Gardens and Wellbeing Project, providing pre-vocational training of individuals with various mental health issues. Referals come from both statutory and voluntary agencies and courses are offered in woodworking, upholstery, picture framing and gardening to those requiring training to enable them to obtain useful vocational employment. Participants undergo an initial assessment following which a personal development plan is agreed and a progress evaluation process put in place. Current attendance figures are around 55 from South Ayrshire, 15 from North Ayrshire and 25 from East Ayrshire.

Projects fall into the following categories:

  • Community Artspace development (for example the “Colour Splash” project in Cumnock).
  • Vocational Rehabilitation assisting individuals to return to work after prolonged absences.
  • Joint Working with other institutions (e.g. animal-assisted therapy which research confirms has many benefits)
  • Peer support which encourages folk graduating from the training programmes to become support volunteers.

Questions directed to George at the end of his talk established that there had been a significant increase in referrals since the pandemic began; 10% of participants were forces veterans; there was an increasing trend towards younger people with mental health problems; and all volunteers came through NHS, i.e. no external mentors.

Willie Stewart gave the vote of thanks to which George modestly replied that his job was easy because it gave him so much enjoyment.