A HOSPICE in County Durham has today launched a green-fingered project to improve the mental health of its patients and their families (October 8).

Bishop Auckland’s Butterwick Hospice on Woodhouse Lane has received £4,400 to build a large greenhouse in its grounds, from one of the town’s county councillors, Sam Zair and the North East Horticultural Society. The scheme was identified and assisted by Bishop Auckland and Shildon Area Action Partnership (BASH AAP).

It will be staffed by a team of volunteers, dubbed the Bishop Green Club, to grow plants and hanging baskets for sale, with all proceeds going towards the hospice.

Founded by Mary Butterwick OBE in 1984 for people living with life-limiting illnesses, Butterwick Hospice is financed entirely from its own fund-raising.

Cllr Zair donated £4,000 of his £20,000 annual Neighbourhood Budget and the Horticultural Society £400 to fund the year-long project that aims to encourage the emotional well-being of cancer sufferers and their relatives.

Cllr Zair said: “The project gets people from all the surrounding communities to come to the hospice and help. It is not just about the hospice, it is about these communities on a larger scale.”

Hospice family support counsellor, Dianne McKenzie said: “Working in a natural environment such as a garden helps to promote feelings of well-being and emotional health. It’s good for patients and families who would rather do something active than talk.”

For more information on joining Bishop Green Club, phone 01388-603003.