Most of us spend our work life at a desk in a strip-lit office, and the closest we'll get to a plant is the obligatory Yucca in reception. That's why we, the team at QED, welcomed the ethos of the Brighton-based Centre for Ecotherapy with open arms recently.
A not-for-profit social enterprise, the Centre for Ecotherapy provides support for vulnerable people in the local Brighton and Hove community through the use of nature-based and horticultural therapies, mindfulness and practical activities.
As well as teambuilding days, the Centre for Ecotherapy offers training days for therapists, volunteering opportunities, and opportunities for research into the effectiveness of nature-based therapies.
Founder and director of the Centre for Ecotherapy, Jess Bayley, told us: “A visit to our centre is a real antidote to office life. There are conscious benefits to be had from being outside and connecting with nature – combining that with ‘team' activities, of specific value to a worthwhile community enterprise, makes the visit all the more rewarding.
“Team days are structured with the organisation in mind; we like to understand what companies want to achieve, and take it from there. We also offer a space to organisations for offsite working and meetings where, in an immersive nature-rich environment, ideas abound.”
The days are designed to complement your business and the needs of the team. We spoke at length with Jess before our visit; from that conversation our own bespoke schedule was produced to ensure we all got the most from our time there.
Angie Thomas, QED's Administrator, explains: “We had a great day, working together in teams, planting, weeding and tidying the allotment and communal areas at the site. It's a fantastic project and we would encourage anyone to visit and volunteer a few hours of their time. I certainly will!”
We pride ourselves on working with social enterprises, throughout our developments in Ealing we worked with London-based social enterprise, Cultivate London, which engages young people and communities in food growing, landscaping and horticulture. Cultivate London has hosted events and designed our outdoor spaces at Marston Court and Hope Gardens, in Ealing, West London.
Investing time in outdoor activities is, in our opinion, a vital contributor to increased productivity in the office, and a happier, collaborative, working environment. We will return to Centre for Ecotherapy soon, and would encourage businesses in the East Sussex region to explore the benefits of ecotherapy on their next team away day!
As Angela Wade, Finance Manager at QED says: “The best thing was, unlike normal team days, you see something tangible that you have achieved and contributed towards – as well as having a lovely time in the fresh air.”
QED's vision is one of a moveable, diverse and sustainable built environment. We are delivering this by bringing brownfield land back into productive use; with our buildings routinely constructed from a kit of re-usable component parts. Our recent projects include Hope Gardens and Marston Court in Ealing.