Published: 08 April 2013
New Leaf Opportunities
We look at the work of an NHS project in Devon which is using plant growing as a positive way to support people with mental health issues.
Image Credit: New Leaf
The New Leaf project is sited on the outskirts of Exeter at Exminster. It is run by Devon Partnerships NHS Trust’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service for people with mental health issues.

The project provides valuable work, training and therapy opportunities within real businesses which are carrying out commercial and retail operations on the site. 

The plants

One of the departments making up this project is Hillcrest Growers. Established in 1990 it operates as a commercial plant nursery producing a wide range of plants for sale to the public and trade customers. The nursery is a work place where people are encouraged to become part of the horticultural team learning and developing transferable skills while producing top quality plants.

Image Credit: New Leaf

Other departments

Another department is called ‘Wood Works’, here they manufacture and sell a range of products for the commercial market and the private sector achieving high standards of workmanship in a well equipped workshop, including woodwork lathes to produce fine turned pieces. Individual wood products are finished to very high standards of workmanship.

Image Credit: New Leaf
In the ‘Clothing Works’ unit the design team can prepare and print onto a range of garments using up to date IT programmes and printing machines. There are no minimum order sizes for customers requiring only a few items.

Printing process

The New Leaf Print department team have taken a series of stunning images of plants to produce two different set of colourful greetings cards. The whole process is carried out on site by the team working in the print shop.

This new venture into direct selling their products provides greater opportunities for learning new skills and gaining experience in a wider range of tasks, including typesetting, design and technology and operating the print finishing machinery. As well as these new cards the team produces finished work for the NHS and commercial clients.

To purchase a set of the new cards produced at New Leaf Print click here or on the image below to visit their website.

Image Credit: New Leaf

Image Credit: New Leaf

Catering skills

There is also an onsite New Leaf Cafe offering support and training in a cafeteria environment by providing meals for a lunch club and people involved on the New Leaf  site.
Each department at New Leaf not only provides work opportunities for people with mental health issues but also different  vocational training programmes where transferable skills and experience are developed so people can achieve their vocational aspirations and move through the Trust’s service.  
Purchasing products from any of the departments within this project provides valuable resources to keep the scheme going.
Further details can be seen on their website
Reported by Chris Allen  

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