Stuart Middleton, project manager at homes developer Lovell, won an award in the workforce category for the initiative ‘Mental Health Site Garden’ at the new Leading Lights Awards. Held in Manchester on Thursday 24 November, the awards, run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, recognise projects and initiatives that have gone the extra mile to deliver positive results within communities.
Stuart worked with partners and colleagues at Lovell to develop a site garden in 2021 as a response to concerns over the long term mental health impacts which the Covid-19 pandemic was having on workers.
Stuart began planting and seeding around the site and encouraged colleagues and subcontractors in East Anglia to get involved.
Housing Association Partner, Clarion, also supported this by growing courgettes, groundworkers brought a range of self-seeding flowers and Stuart added potatoes and strawberries. A neighbouring farmer donated manure.
Stuart Middleton said: “The team said that seeing the flowers and vegetables growing gave them a lift every morning, and made them feel that the pandemic wouldn’t last forever. We recognised that people naturally gravitated towards the space when they felt stressed, and gardening alongside each other led them to have open conversations about the things they found difficult to talk about. Now, weeding and watering is done as needed by whoever happens to be passing, and some of the team make time on their lunch hours or at the end of the day to tend to the plants. Conversations are already happening about how the garden can be renewed and improved. It really is amazing to win this award for a project that has helped support the team.”
Following Stuart’s lead, the initiative has started to be implemented at other Lovell sites nationally, and the Lovell site at Bowlers Green at Hopton-on-Sea now has a large space for outdoor eating, a varied allotment and even a barbecue!
The Considerate Constructors Scheme said on the project: “In an industry that suffers the weight of mental health issues, Stuart is a shining example of how to encourage the core principles of listening, empathy and employee wellbeing.”
Sasha Bainbridge, Regional Partnerships Director said: “Stuart recognises the consequences of people not prioritising their mental health; something that is especially prevalent amongst men and construction workers. This scheme is fantastic and, as well as this, Stuart has also been instrumental in delivering Open Doors site visits to local students, hosting work experience as part of educational partnerships, and supporting women into construction.”
Find out more about Stuart’s award and the initiative here.